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April 3, 2020

NSSF Joe Bartozzi and USCCA Tim Schmidt Talk New Gun Owners

NSSF President and CEO Joe Bartozzi joined USCCA President and Founder Tim Schmidt for a YouTube webcast talking about the phenomenon of the spike in firearm purchases during the coronavirus pandemic. NSSF released the adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check figures and March 2020 topped the record for the busiest month on record for firearm transactions.

Bartozzi watched this recent trend and understands it’s a critical time for the firearm industry. New gun owners should be welcomed and educated to be confident and encouraged to remain in the gun-owning community. Bartozzi and Schmidt outlined the themes they see in the firearm industry and what it means for the future. Bartozzi explained whether for reasons of national security, public safety or personal security, “This virus has created a paradigm shift in people choosing to exercise their Second Amendment rights and I think it’s absolutely unbelievable.”

Keeping Industry Open

NSSF worked diligently to keep the industry open and working as essential critical services while emergency orders were issued. The firearm industry trade association worked with the White House and Department of Homeland Security to list firearm manufacturers, distributors, retail and ranges in the revised Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) “essential critical infrastructure” guidance. Governors are now agreeing, gun stores must remain open. They are critical for law enforcement and the exercise of critical rights.

“You know the right under the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms really begins at the retail counter,” Bartozzi explained. “That’s where you can really manifest that right to take lawful possession of a firearm. So really, if you’re shutting down gun stores…certainly if you’re shutting those down, that’s an infringement on the Second Amendment right.”

Beyond the Counter

Bartozzi stressed that responsible firearm ownership begins with understanding and practicing safe firearm storage. NSSF urges all gun owners to lock firearms when not in use or being carried. That can be as simple as the free gun lock included with every new gun sale, or a variety of lock boxes or safes. NSSF’s Project ChildSafe® is an industry-driven initiative that’s provided 38 million safety kits with free gun locks to more than 15,000 law enforcement agencies for their communities. These efforts are paying real dividends as even though firearm ownership is at an all-time high in America, unintentional firearm fatalities were at an all-time low last year.

New gun owners, though, must know where they can seek out reputable and qualified training.

“Now, more than ever, organizations like yours – the NSSF – and the USCCA, really need to help people, especially all these new gun owners understand that being trained is very important,” Schmidt said.  “It’s so important to know when to use and how to use that powerful tool, that firearm.”

Bartozzi credited the USCCA for the training videos offered on their site, which he said he watches on his own handheld devices.

Growing New Owners

Schmidt credited NSSF’s +OneSM Movement, which is focused on inviting someone who has never had the opportunity to be introduced to firearms to a gun range or out hunting. The idea is to grow one more responsible gun owner. NSSF challenged gun owners to do this. They responded.

“We figured if we could get 100,000 people to sign up, take our pledge and really commit to bringing one new person to the field or the range, we’d be doing really well,” Bartozzi explained.  “At the end of the first year… we had nearly 600,000 people take the pledge. That was absolutely astonishing to us. We’re trying to get that number to a million this year.”

Growing Safe Owners

Schmidt spoke of his recent appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight and the discussion of new gun owners.

“I want to make darn sure that all those brand new gun owners know how to use a gun,” Schmidt explained.  “It’s important they know what to do, what not to do, how the thing operates, the laws in their jurisdiction, and now we’re in this situation where now you can’t just go down and sign up for a gun class because so many of them have been shut down.”

Schmidt’s response was to task the USCCA team to build out their online training programs.

“We’ve added more and more resources to our website that are free, but when you’re ready to take it to the next level, there’s tremendous resources on our member website as well,” he said.

Both Bartozzi and Schmidt agreed on the need for continuous training for new and seasoned gun owners. This is where those with experience can make a difference in teaching and demonstrating proper technique and skills. This is the responsibility of all, they said, which also creates new passions for the shooting sports and Second Amendment rights.

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