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May 28, 2013

NSSF President Discusses Industry Priorities with Nation’s Wildlife Professionals


A summit meeting last week brought together professionals from state fish and game agencies and leaders of the firearms, ammunition, archery, and fishing and recreational boating industries–all of which pay excise taxes to support the American tradition of outdoor recreation.

NSSF President Steve Sanetti urged the audience to keep on telling positive stories that affect the image of outdoor recreation and to use facts that are routinely ignored by national media—that sportsmen and women are the country’s major supporters of conservation and that violent crime continues to decline while at the same time firearms ownership has significantly increased, demonstrating that responsible, law-abiding gun owners are not responsible for the criminal misuse of firearms. The first is of obvious interest to state agencies, but the latter is important as well because ownership of AR-style modern sporting rifles—the most popular rifle in America and one increasingly used for hunting—has been banned in several states even though rifles of any kind are used in only about 3 percent of homicides.

Restrictions on owning certain types of firearms as well as proposed bans on traditional ammunition containing lead components would negatively impact the amount hunters provide for conservation through their purchases of firearms and ammunition under the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act. Sanetti also told the group that industry opposes any diversion of P-R funding for any purpose other than originally intended—to fund state efforts toward wildlife restoration, range construction and hunter safety.

Coincidentally, on the same day Sanetti was making these points, firearms owners, target shooters and hunters won a victory when the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups demanding  that the Environmental Protection Agency ban traditional ammunition. EPA does not have the authority to ban traditional ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Also, there is no sound science that shows the use of traditional ammunition has harmed wildlife populations or that it presents a health risk to humans who consume game taken with such ammunition.

Reaffirming the firearms industry’s support for state agency professionals, Sanetti said it was up to them to make wildlife-management decisions based upon local conditions and sound science; such decisions, including those on traditional ammunition, should not be made by agenda-driven organizations like CBD or in Washington, D.C.

Sanetti said that industry has supported the use of alternative ammunition where state wildlife agencies found it appropriate. For alternative ammunition to be a viable alternative, however, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives must rescind its threatened ban upon solid projectiles as “armor piercing ammunition” and grant sporting-purposes exemptions to alternative ammunition designed for hunting and target shooting.

Public perception of gun ownership is often at odds with reality, Sanetti told the group. It’s also something the media is not eager to fix. “Television news surely has driven much of the public misperception about gun violence,” said Jeffrey M. McCall in a recent op-ed piece that bears reading.  Violent crime, including homicides committed with firearms, continues to decline, according to a Department of Justice report. Unfortunately, a recent Pew survey said 56 percent of the public believed gun-related crime is higher now than two decades ago. A contributing factor for this public misconception about gun ownership and crime can also be chalked up to disinterest; a recent Gallup poll showed that gun control ranks near the bottom of public priorities.