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April 21, 2023

New House Majority Means Optimism at 2023 NSSF Fly-In

By Matt Manda

Firearm and ammunition industry members gathered in Washington, D.C., for the annual NSSF® Congressional Fly-In and for the first time in four years it did not include a House of Representatives overseen by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Gone are the days of House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and House Oversight and Government Reform Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) trying to outdo one another on gun control to score political points by attacking industry leaders.

To the contrary, firearm industry leaders are optimistic and recognized a new House majority under the leadership of Speaker Kevin McCarthy means a stop to the baseless legislative attacks on the Second Amendment and the industry.

All told, about 50 industry leaders attended the NSSF Fly-In.

Upper Chamber View

The two-day NSSF Congressional Fly-In started on a high note. NSSF honored U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) by presenting him with the 2022 Legislator of the Year award. Sen. Daines earned the recognition for his commitment to protecting the firearm industry against antigun legislative attacks and for his determination to preserve the Constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners, hunting, public lands access and conservation that set him apart as a leader in Congress.

Sen. Daines doesn’t just talk hunting heritage and the Second Amendment, he lives it. He spoke about keeping a 20-gauge Remington 870 from his grandfather nearby on his back porch and a watchful eye out for nuisance muskrats that wander out around his backyard pond. He spoke about what that upbringing means to him and the next generation of Montanans.

“For me, outdoor sporting and firearms are truly a passion. I’ve got my wife now as my hunting buddy – we’ve raised four children. I’d take a week off while working in the software business and we’d spend time in the whole of Montana just chasing critters,” Sen. Daines told the crowd. “I’m passionate about the [shooting] sports. I’m passionate about defending and protecting the industry because you know there’s a crosshair on you all and on us because we embrace this great American tradition.”

Sen. Daines introduced the Firearm Industry Nondiscrimination Act, S. 4435 in the 117th Congress and now S. 428 in the current 118th Congress, to ensure firearm-related businesses have fair access to financial services and corporate entities can’t benefit from taxpayer-funded contracts while using those profits to discriminate against Constitutionally-protected firearm businesses. He’s also fighting against anti-hunting special interest influence over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) by introducing The Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act, S. 4940, to prohibit federal agencies from banning the use of traditional lead ammunition and fishing tackle on public lands by ignoring the science.

“Rest assured we’ve got your back and thank you for having ours as well, as we fight these battles – not only in Washington but across this great country,” Sen. Daines said.

Sen. Daines wrapped up his remarks explaining how his Twitter account was temporarily banned. He changed his profile picture to a photo of him and his wife, Cindy, posing with a pronghorn she harvested with a single shot, “from a considerable distance.” To his surprise, Twitter owner Elon Musk texted, asked to chat and apologized. Sen. Daines relayed they had a great conversation and that Musk told him they were going to change Twitter policies, saying, “We cannot let San Francisco elites dictate and impose their values on the rest of us.”

Going on Offense

Firearm industry members also heard from U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), a Second Amendment stalwart and industry friend.

“There will be no resting on laurels,” Rep. Hudson said.

Rep. Hudson is a consistent champion of protecting Second Amendment rights. He’s once again introduced the bipartisan Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, H.R. 38, to allow handgun owners who are legally permitted by their home state to lawfully carry a concealed firearm in other states provided they comply with the law in other states. Rep. Hudson has also supported many other industry-supported bills in a Congress that may now see meaningful action on several of the proposals, including repealing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Final Rule on stabilizing arm braces attached to pistols.

“The National Shooting Sports Foundation is critical and the role you play in supporting the firearms industry and the shooting sports. You are the voice, you are our partner when we fight these fights,” Rep. Hudson said. “You know I am an avid outdoorsman. But I’m also a Dad. I’ve got a seven-year-old and I want him to have the same access to shooting and the outdoors that I had growing up. The work we’re doing together is going to make sure that future is secure for him.”

Rep. Hudson spoke about the current political environment. “We’ve had a lot of fights here lately. The Biden administration is out to get us no question about it. They’re going about it step by step. We’ve got to be vigilant.”

Being vigilant means going on offense to win even more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives to grow the pro-gun majority.

“We’re not defending our majority. We’re growing it. We’ve got some great opportunities to do it. That’s how we get things done here,” Rep. Hudson said.

Bipartisan Voice

At the Fly-In breakfast the following morning,  attendees heard from U.S. Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) who spoke about his background growing up in a small town in rural Maine with a rich hunting heritage. A former Marine, Rep. Golden said it wasn’t always easy to be a Second Amendment-supporting Democrat in Congress, but it’s who he is and what he believes. He voiced some assurances that not much in terms of legislation would likely make it through the House that would be detrimental to the firearm industry. He drew applause when mentioning the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act – which he is cosponsoring – might receive a vote. “It’s kind of a no-brainer, in my opinion,” Rep. Golden said.

Speaking about barriers in place that prohibit more Americans from obtaining concealed carry licenses and training, the congressman put it plainly.

“I would love to do the course in Washington… if I could find the time,” Rep. Golden said. “I did the training in Maine, it’s like a couple of hours. I was glad to go get the training. It was helpful. In D.C., it’s like 16 hours, time on the range and it costs an arm and a leg and your next born child. People shouldn’t have to jump through that many hoops to be able to protect themselves.”

He wrapped up by speaking about being a Democrat who supports the Second Amendment in a caucus that’s nearly exclusively antigun. Congressman Golden said it could be lonely but he’s okay with that.

“In the House I’m one of the few,” he added. “My colleagues will say ‘That’s just Golden being Golden,’ but I believe first of all I’m representing my constituents – which is what you’re supposed to do – and secondly, I’m representing my beliefs on the issue, which are genuine.”

The enthusiasm and energy demonstrated by the successful 2023 NSSF Congressional Fly-In made one thing abundantly clear: leaders in Washington, D.C., are paying attention to the concerns of Americans and the Second Amendment is on the top of their minds. They aren’t going to let the opportunity slip by.

You may also be interested in:

NSSF Honors U.S. Senator Steve Daines as Legislator of the Year

NSSF Applauds Sen. Daines’ FIND Act Stand Against ‘Woke’ Discrimination

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