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June 1, 2023

Industry Achieving Success Fending Off Gun Control in Statehouses

By Larry Keane

A new Axios report shows state lawmakers passed more pro-firearm industry bills over the past 12 months than gun control measures. That’s reflective of the efforts of NSSF’s Government Relations – State Affairs team working relentlessly to promote, protect and preserve the firearm industry from gun control efforts that seek to hobble and even destroy it.

According to the Axios report, more than 1,700 firearm-related bills have been introduced in state legislatures since last May, following the Uvalde, Texas, tragedy. Ninety-three of those bills were passed by legislatures and signed into law. Of those, 56 percent “expanded access to firearms or benefited the firearms industry by allowing manufacturing in the state or protecting them from liability lawsuits.” On the flip side, nearly 44 percent of the bills “restricted access to firearms or supported victims/potential victims in gun-related cases.”

Some states have been tougher than others. Several states like Washington, Oregon, California, Illinois, New York and Connecticut have supermajorities that skew toward gun control. Other states, like Arizona, Nevada and Virginia are slim majorities or split between the parties controlling one side of the legislature or the other. Still, other states like Florida moved aggressively to protect the firearm industry.

NSSF’s Government Relations team didn’t take any state for granted – as either completely for the firearm industry or against it. Nothing was – or is – taken for granted.

Firearm Industry Financial Firewall

Firearm industry victories focused on the ability of lawful firearm businesses to remain operational and providing the means to exercise Second Amendment rights.

Beginning under President Barack Obama’s Operation Choke Point, financial industry and banking and payment service providers throttled lawful firearm businesses using their services simply because they were a disfavored industry. Those efforts continue in the private sector but states are fighting back by prohibiting and penalizing financial institutions from operating that way. Several states adopted NSSF-supported Financial Industry Nondiscrimination (FIND) Act laws that bar state governments from entering into contracts with companies that benefit from taxpayer dollars while also instituting “woke” Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) and antigun discriminatory policies on those taxpayers. These include Texas, Louisiana, Arizona, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, South Dakota and West Virginia.

Several legislatures have passed – and governors have signed into law – laws that prohibit the use of a firearm retailer-specific Merchant Category Code (MCC) by credit card companies to track lawful sales and possibly lead to backdoor gun control and firearm ownership lists by government agencies. Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed this law, as did Montana’s Gov. Greg Gianforte and North Dakota’s Gov. Doug Burgum. West Virginia’s Gov. Jim Justice, Mississippi’s Gov. Tate Reeves and Idaho’s Gov. Brad Little have signed laws barring the use of a MCC on firearm purchases earlier this year.

Similar legislative efforts are ongoing on the federal level in Washington, D.C.

Bad Bills Doomed

Some firearm industry victories are preventing bad gun control laws from taking root. That’s the case for Nevada’s Gov. Joe Lombardo, who was faced with that prospect less than six months into his term as governor.

In that instance, Gov. Lombardo stood strong for Nevadans’ Constitutional rights and vetoed three significant gun control bills. Those bills included implementing an age-based gun ban on adults over the age of 18 years old; instituting restrictive limits where law-abiding gun owners could carry their legally-permitted concealed firearms; and expanding the definitions of individuals who would be prohibited from purchasing and possessing firearms.

In Texas, an age-based gun ban passed out of a House of Representatives committee only to fail to receive a vote by the full chamber. Texas law recognizes the right of law-abiding 18 year olds to purchase long guns since the 1960s. Numerous other pieces of legislation failed to gain approval in states from west to east, including mandating gun owners purchase liability insurance, mandatory firearm storage in the home, excise taxes on ammunition purchases and more.

The work continues. As some states wrap up, others are getting ramped up. Others stay in session year-round, requiring constant vigilance against industry-damaging legislation. That is vital to supporting customers who want to exercise their Second Amendment rights. Voters have spoken in support of their Second Amendment rights to purchase and possess commonly-owned firearms.

NSSF has been reminding elected officials why they’ve been elected to represent the will of their constituents.


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