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March 8, 2010

Huffington Post Readers Deserve A Straight Shooter

We know that many Huffington Post readers are not Second Amendment supporters, although we believe they value accuracy in what they read. HuffPost readers in search of a better understanding of gun ownership trends in America and the firearms industry can do better than to rely on a blog written by Josh Sugarmann of the extremist anti-gun Violence Policy Center. HuffPost readers may want to consider subscribing instead to this blog, which chronicles the firearms industry and firearms trends, often using statistics from the FBI (as below) and ATF to ensure accuracy.

Sugarmann's recent post would have readers believe that the market for the most popular style of firearm–the AR, or modern sporting rifle–is in "collapse" because ONE company, KBI/Charles Daly, which was not well known for sales of that style firearm, unfortunately went out of business.

A collapse? Hardly.

Firearm sales, while off their record-setting peak of a year ago, remain strong. At the industry's recent annual trade show, the SHOT Show, attendance was just a several hundred shy of a record–notable in a still sluggish economy–and buying was brisk, signaling another successful year for 2010.

Sugarmann's posting strikes us as an "I'll try anything" attempt to force-march the dead issue of legislation for an assault weapons ban onto the front burner, which would be a long journey indeed from where it currently rests. It's also an attempt to continue to confuse HuffPost readers about AR-style rifles by using the incorrect and politically-combustible term "assault weapons" to describe what are civilian semi-automatic rifles that are widely used for target shooting and, increasingly, for hunting. Remember, it was Sugarmann who years ago said, "The public's confusion over fully-automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons — anything that looks like a machine gun is presumed to be a machine gun — can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons."

Note to HuffPost readers: "Assault weapons" are military weapons, and civilian ownership of them has been severely regulated since 1934.

As for the reference to "long-term trends of declining gun ownership," HuffPost readers should know that many who purchased firearms during the record surge in sales that started back October 2008 were first-time gun buyers, as indicated by participants in NSSF's First Shots program and in overflowing concealed carry classes throughout the country. The real trend is that more people are interested in gun ownership and are buying firearms.

For HuffPost readers who think all this gun buying leads to more crime and accidents, they should know that violent crime rates have been falling for years even as firearms ownership has been increasing. Urban centers like New York, Washington, D.C., Boston and Los Angeles showed major declines in violent crime in 2009. Fatal firearms accidents are at historic lows, too.

All sales surges come to an end, and sales of firearms, including modern sporting rifles, are returning to what most consider normal levels. Nevertheless, new data released by the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System reported 1,243,211 checks in February 2010, ranking the month the second highest February (eighth highest month overall) for most NICS checks. This figure, while being a 1.3 percent decrease from the 1,259,078 checks conducted in February 2009 — the early stage of the surge in firearms sales — is an increase of 21.7 percent over checks in February 2008. The total number of background checks reported since the beginning of NICS is 112,380,272. (Background checks are an indicator of used and new firearms sales.)

As you can see, law-abiding Americans are continuing to buy firearms, which they enjoy using for target shooting and hunting, and which they like to own for personal and home protection. We'd like HuffPost readers to know that. Actually, we believe many already do, since we suspect many HuffPost readers are firearm owners. Where else did all those pro-gun commenters come from on Sugarmann's blog?

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Categories: Education, Media Inaccuracies, Safety