NSSF is the trade association for America's firearms industry.
Our mission: To promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports.
NSSF is the trade association for America's firearms industry.
Our mission: To promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports.
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The Writer's Guide to Firearms and Ammunition

2. Just the Facts

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"There Ought To Be A Law . . ." (And There Is)

  •   You must be 18 years old to purchase long guns (rifles and shotguns) and 21 years old to purchase handguns.

  •   You must be 18 to purchase rifle or shotgun ammunition and 21 to purchase handgun ammunition.

  •   It is illegal for certain categories of people to ship, transport, receive or possess firearms. These categories include any person:

  • under indictment for, or convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year
  • who is a fugitive
  • who is an unlawful user or addicted to any controlled substance
  • who is an illegal alien
  • who has been dishonorably discharged from the military
  • who is subject to a restraining order from harassing, stalking or threatening an intimate partner or child
  • who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
  • who has been adjudicated mentally defective, or had been committed to any mental institution
  • who was a citizen of the United States but has renounced citizenship

  •   Mail order sales or other transfers of firearms between individuals in different states are illegal.

  •   It is illegal to have, ship or receive a firearm that has its permanent serial number missing or changed.

  •   It is illegal to purchase a firearm with the intent to sell it to an unqualified third party. These are called "strawman" purchases (Visit www.dontlie.org).

  •   A federal firearms licensee must make an official record of every sale or transfer of all firearms and notify the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) if multiple firearms sales are made to any person in a single transaction.

  •   It is illegal to manufacture or sell ammunition specifically designed to defeat body armor.

  •   Theft of a firearm from a federally licensed dealer is punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years and a fine of $250,000 (18 United States Code §922(u)).


Safety Facts

Accidental firearm-related fatalities are at their lowest point since record-keeping began in 1903. Today, the annual number of firearm-related accidents is down 79 percent, from a high of 3,200 in 1930, to 680 in 2008. (Source: National Safety Council, Injury Facts Report, 2010 edition)

Hunting is one of the safest activities in America with a 0.05 percent injury rate per 100 participants. Additionally, unintentional firearm-related fatalities have declined by 60 percent from 1,489 unintentional fatalities in 1989 to 600* in 2009. Source: CDC and National Safety Council Injury Facts 2011 edition (*preliminary data).

  •   The firearms and ammunition industry and associated groups have distributed tens of millions of safety brochures over the past 15 years. Source: SAAMI.

  •   Hunter education programs now involve more than 54,000 instructors and over 600,000 students annually, in all 50 states. Over 25 million have graduated since hunter education became a mandatory requirement to obtain a hunting license. Source: International Hunter Education Association.

  •   Annually, firearms are involved in fewer than 1 percent of all accidental fatalities. There are annually more accidental fatalities due to motor vehicles, falls, drownings, fires and burns, ingestion of food and/or objects, and poisoning than by firearms.
Source: National Safety Council, Injury Facts Reports, 2010 edition.

  •   Firearms account for the lowest cause of injury among youth. Firearms are involved in less than 1.5 percent of all accidental fatalities among children.


Economic Impact Of The Shooting Sports

The sporting firearms and ammunition industry in America is rich in history but is not "big business." Sales at the manufacturer level are approximately $4.1 billion annually. There are single companies in our nation that are many times larger than the entire firearms industry.

From excise tax sales projecting, sales break down roughly to 1/3 from handguns, 1/3 from rifles and shotguns together and 1/3 from ammunition. Those percentages vary, sometimes significantly, from year to year, but, overall, that's an accurate breakdown.

Beyond actual firearm and ammunition sales, however, the hunting and shooting sports have a fairly significant economic impact, particularly in rural areas. According to surveys by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others, the hunting and shooting sports generate some $67.6 billion in economic impact annually, supporting more than 592,944 jobs.
Source: NSSF 2011 Industry Intelligence Report.

According to Fortune magazine, "The dollars spent by hunters pack special oomph, because they hit small towns far off the interstate. There, merchants look to hunting season the way Macy's looks to Christmas: it can make or break the year."

The nation's hunters and recreational shooters spend $27.8 billion annually on equipment, including firearms, ammunition, clothing, reloading equipment, optics and accessories.
Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Hunting- and shooting-related industries account for 183,000 jobs.
Source: Firearms and Ammunition Industry Economic Impact report 2010.

More than 34.5 million Americans participated in at least one of the shooting sports in 2009. That's more than double the number of people that play baseball or soccer during the same period and nearly 10 million more than those who play golf.
Source: (NSGA) National Sporting Goods Association.

The firearms and ammunition industry supports an 11 percent excise tax on all rifles, shotguns and ammunition, and a 10 percent excise tax on handguns, which raised more than $402 million in 2010 for wildlife management, habitat acquisition, safety training and shooting range development. Since 1937, $6.8 billion has been raised.
Source: Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

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