In response to the rush to judgment — and enactment of new anti-gun/anti-industry laws — Steve Sanetti, NSSF president and CEO, sends a clear message that gun owners, nor the firearms industry, should be punished for the criminal misuse of firearms.
“[Firearms owners] are not the bad guys. The industry isn’t the bad guys,” Sanetti says in an extended interview on PBS’s “Frontline,” telecast on Feb. 19. “Insofar as we can help the situation, we want to be able to help. But that doesn’t mean piling meaningless restrictions and onerous conditions upon people who want to exercise their rights and just enjoy what they do peacefully.”
In addressing who was responsible for the shooting tragedy in Newtown in December, Sanetti told PBS the focus should be on the gun owner.
“I think primarily the firearms owner in this instance was not exercising that degree of personal responsibility … she should have done,” Sanetti said. “She knew she had an at-risk individual in her home. … She knew he needed help. She knew he was mentally troubled. She had firearms in the house she purchased legally. She had gone through all the background check required in Connecticut, the guns were registered to her, nothing was done improperly or illegally. But where I think she really caused this incident was by not adequately storing these guns securely away from her son, who she knew to have these problems. Had she done that, this incident would not have occurred and you wouldn’t see this big cry over, ‘let’s have more gun control.’”
When gun-related tragedies occur, there should not be a rush to create new gun-control laws, Sanetti said, because, “people react emotionally. And I think people make bad decisions when they are angry, when they are fearful, and when they act in haste. And I think this situation had the making of all three.”
That type of emotion, Sanetti points out in the interview, is evident in Senator Chris Murphy’s (D-Conn.) statement that modern sporting rifles are designed to kill people.
“With all due respect, he could not be more wrong. … You have millions and millions … of Americans who pass a background check, who buy these guns and have millions and millions of magazines. … [Yet] the crime rate has been going down. If you tell these people … who use these guns for legitimate purposes … ‘You’re nothing but a murderer, because that’s the only reason why anyone would own guns is to kill people,’ how are you going to get these people to cooperate [on solutions to violence]?” Sanetti asked.
To substantiate his point concerning violent deaths, Sanetti related statistics from Connecticut.
“In Connecticut, there are exactly two homicides committed with a rifle of any kind in the last seven years. There were 40 deaths annually from knives, 320 deaths annually from clubs, and 20 deaths annually from hands and feet. So, it’s not just firearms. Yes, firearms can be misused, but other things can be misused, too. So, the focus, I think, should be on violence,” Sanetti said.
The call for limiting magazine capacity also only punishes law-abiding gun owners, Sanetti points out.
“Millions and millions of law-abiding Americans use semiautomatic firearms with detachable magazines of varying capacities, and millions and millions of them every day don’t do a thing wrong. And so we feel it’s not the correct approach and we do not support magazine limitation,” he said.
In addressing why there has been a surge in firearms sales, Sanetti addressed the importance of safety.
“We want people to own firearms for the right reasons, because they understand, respect them, enjoy them, and will use them safely, properly and responsibly. So the idea of a mad rush for everybody to buy a firearm, I don’t think is necessarily the best trend in the world, but it’s a fact of life because, as I say, we’re Americans, and if you say we can’t have something, people want it,” Sanetti said.
The safety factor was a major emphasis during the interview, including the role of NSSF.
“People look at a trade association like ours and assume the only thing we’re interested in is selling guns. Not true. We want our products to be used safely and responsibly. Because, let’s face it, we’re the ones who get blamed if products are used unsafely or irresponsibly,” Sanetti said.
Thanks to Bill Brassard, NSSF communications director, for extracting the key points of this interview.
Steve Sanetti, NSSF president and CEO, tells PBS, “The industry isn’t the bad guys.” To watch the interview, click here.
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