A Fly-In Success: Industry Converges On Capitol Hill
By Jade Moldé, SI Editor
Fly-In Team Three meets with Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) at his office in the
Longworth House Office Building. From left: Jade Moldé (FMG Publications), David Nau
(Tactical Gear Distributors), Michael Hefner (ZEV Technologies), Paul Spitale (Colt),
Rep. Farenthold, Jason Hornady (Hornady), Adam Ruonala (Palmetto State Armory)
and Jeff Reh (Beretta USA).
In April, a record 59 industry executives converged on Capitol Hill for the Ninth Annual NSSF Congressional Fly-In. By many accounts, this two-day event was a resounding success for the industry. Considering this year had a record amount of participation from the industry, attendees were able to meet with more Congressional officials on both sides of the aisle.
In a welcome change from previous years, the majority of the meetings were held with the senators and congressmen directly rather than members of their staff. Being an election year, it was clear lawmakers have recognized the significance of the industry and its economic impact — which has seen an increase from $19.1 billion to $49.3 billion (158%) since 2008.
“Each year our industry executives welcome this opportunity to meet directly with Members of Congress to help ensure the significant employment and economic contribution of our industry is understood,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior VP and general counsel. “Many of the members with whom we meet truly appreciate the firearms and ammunition industry has been central to America’s heritage of self-reliance, enjoyment of outdoor traditions and, in a real sense, our very freedoms.”
The top legislative priority at the Fly-In was to thank members of the House of Representatives for passing S.405, the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015, and to urge senators to work through the gridlock and pass a similar bill in the Senate. A week after the Fly-In, the Senate passed the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act as an amendment to S.2012 (the Energy Policy Modernization Act), bringing the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s package closer to enactment than ever before.
This vital piece of legislation will provide state fish and game agencies with more flexibility to use Pittman-Robertson funds to build and maintain public shooting ranges, as well as secure more access to Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Services lands and waters for hunting, fishing and shooting.
During the Fly-In, attendees also urged elected officials to move forward with Export Control Reform (ECR). Under current conditions, U.S. firearms and ammunition manufacturers face a competitive disadvantage in the global marketplace due to inefficient Cold War-era export controls. Industry executives asked Congressional officials to encourage State and Commerce departments to move forward with reforms for the firearms and ammunition industry to transition export licensing to Commerce from State.
Additional legislative priorities presented to members of Congress focused on the preservation of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which has come under attack from left-wing politicians and candidates, along with several Appropriations priorities including: reduce the annual registration fee for non-exporting manufacturers, continued funding for a competitive grant for organizations to provide firearms safety locking devices to gun owners and increased funding for the ATF.
Rep. John A. Culberson (center) is honored by Steve Sanetti and Larry Keane as
NSSF’s 2015 Legislator of the Year during a reception at the Congressional Fly-In.
During the Fly-In, NSSF honored U.S. Rep. John A. Culberson (R-TX) as its Legislator of the Year. Congressman Culberson played an important role in convincing senior management of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to forestall the effort to introduce a new regulatory framework that would have banned the manufacturing and sale of 5.56mm M855 “green tip” ammunition — a popular round widely used by sportsmen and women for shooting and hunting.
As chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science — which oversees ATF funding — Rep. Culberson invited senior bureau officials to Capitol Hill to express concerns the proposed ban would interfere with Americans’ Second Amendment rights and enjoyment of lawful sporting activities.
In addition, the NSSF PAC honored Hornady Manufacturing Co. President Steve Hornady for his leadership in being the first person to have reached the $25,000 milestone for his combined donations to the industry’s political action committee over several election cycles. Hornady’s name is the first to be placed on a special plaque, which will be displayed in NSSF’s Washington, D.C. office.
Save The Date
NSSF announced the 10th Annual Congressional Fly-In is slated to take place in April 2017, so make sure to save the date.
For updates on other important legislative issues that impact the industry, visit www.nssf.org/govrel.