National Shooting Sports Foundation, Inc. 11 Mile Hill Road
Newtown, CT 06470-2359
Tel (203) 426-1320
Fax (203) 426-1087
February 4, 2013
Dear Members of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force:
As members of Connecticut’s firearms industry, we understand and appreciate that you and your colleagues in the legislature have embarked on a very difficult task on a very complex and emotional issue – and we want you to know we are committed to being part of the solution. We are proud of our history in a state that our industry has called home for over 175 years and we believe Connecticut is proud of your association with us as evidenced by efforts to make the Colt Factory a national park. We have a long history together and we share your goal for a safer Connecticut and a safer America. As you begin your challenging responsibility, we would ask that you consider the following facts: •
Our industry is committed to the safe and responsible use of firearms.
Instantaneous retail point-of-sale criminal and mental health background checks were the invention of the industry in the late 1980s, years before they became mandatory under federal law. There have been over 147 million background checks since 1998. Over 300 million firearms are owned by almost half the households in America. Firearms ownership among law-abiding citizens has undeniably increased, and over the last 30 years, despite the growth in firearms ownership, the homicide rate has declined by 50 percent. What’s more, violent crime has dramatically decreased to record lows not seen since the early 1960s.
Since 1999 we have distributed over 35 million free gun locks, to cities and towns all across this nation – as part of our “Project Childsafe” program –along with even more safety brochures urging gun owners to securely store their firearms away from children and unauthorized adults, as is also the law in Connecticut. Just recently we donated 1,000 locks and safety kits to the people of Bridgeport, Connecticut.
We have worked with the Veterans Administration to help ensure that every service member returning from conflict zones during the last 2 years has been offered one of our gun locks and safety kits. We have also exhorted Hollywood to stop its obsession with violent entertainment, which both coarsens our culture and has a desensitizing effect upon impressionable youths.
The firearms industry is a strong contributor to Connecticut’s economy.
The firearms industry has contributed over $1.7 billion in economic activity to Connecticut in 2012, employs close to 2,900 people in the state and generates an additional 4,400 jobs in supplier industries.
In these difficult economic times, the firearms industry is still one of the few industries that
has continued to grow while also contributing increased tax revenues to the state (to the tune of $119 million). It makes no sense to damage a vital Connecticut industry by imposing restrictions that would do nothing to achieve our shared goal of a safer state. •
The central issue involved in violence where a firearm is misused is the unauthorized access to the firearm.
We believe it is critical to first focus on the unauthorized access to firearms by irresponsible persons and those not legally qualified to possess them. We support immediate improvements to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) that will bring all appropriate mental health and other records, such as restraining orders, into the NICS system. Fixing NICS must be among the highest priorities in order to help further prevent illegal purchases of firearms from federally licensed retailers.
We are expanding our Project Childsafe messaging to emphasize secure storage and in particular the need for this in homes where at-risk individuals may be present. Securely storing firearms when not in use would likely have prevented the Newtown tragedy, with no additional laws needed. Personal responsibility is the key.
• The semi-automatic modern sporting rifle has been unfairly mischaracterized.
An “assault rifle” by definition is a fully automatic firearm. Automatic firearms were severely restricted from civilian ownership under the 1934 National Firearms Act.
Semiautomatic firearms – one shot for each pull and release of the trigger – are the most popular types of firearms in America, and have been for many years. The most popular hunting and clay target shotguns are semiautomatics. So are the most popular target pistols, including those used in the Olympics. The most popular .22 rifles used to hunt small game are semiautomatics.
The overwhelming choice of both law enforcement and civilians who wish to exercise their right to own a pistol for self-defense is a semiautomatic. Semiautomatic rifles have been used in this country for deer hunting since 1905, and they are overwhelmingly the most popular rifles being sold today – for hunting, target shooting, and other lawful sporting purposes as well as home protection.
Rifles of all kinds (and some semiautomatics are rifles) have figured in less than 5% of all crimes committed using firearms. In Connecticut, since 2006, they have been used in exactly 2 homicides. In this, they have been used twenty times less than knives, blunt instruments, and even hands and feet. Millions of law-abiding sportsmen across the nation own them, and when those misinformed about firearms say that “no sportsman has any need for a gun that is only used to kill people,” they are unfairly labeling millions of American sportsmen.
In conclusion, who among us has not been moved by the unspeakable tragedy that was inflicted by a deranged man upon the children of Newtown, Connecticut? What can possibly heal the wounds, silence the anguished outcries, and make rational discourse on such a heartfelt topic occur? We submit that there are not two “sides” to this debate. There is only one side -- the good people of Connecticut and America, on all points of the political spectrum, united in their common revulsion over this senseless, evil attack on our most helpless. We all must recognize that those who don’t agree with us share in our desire to rid the world of such monstrous acts; and they must recognize that we are not the evildoers. Ours is a responsible industry that makes and sells lawful products to law-abiding citizens. We are part of the fabric of American life, and we treasure our children, our heritage, and our traditions.
We ask only that you include us in your process and see us as a resource. In return, we commit to reviewing reasonable proposals with an open mind and to be part of the solution for the shared goal of a safer society.
Mark Mistretta President Academy 360
Joseph J. Breen (OWNER) Bulleye Enterprises
George Dewey President J. Dewey Manufacturing Co. Inc.
Shane T. Geary (OWNER) Academy Arms, LLC
Craig Pyle (OWNER) Butchers Handheld Reloads
Edward G. Gould Owner Freedom Firearms
Austin Sheridan President Austin Sheridan USA, Inc.
Tommy Millner CEO Cabela’s, Inc.
Guy Bignell Partner Griffin & Howe, Inc.
Chris M. Marino President Autumn Gun Works, Inc.
Gregory Root Owner Charter Oak Armory LLC
Robert A. Metayer (OWNER) Guns and Ammunition
David Baron President Baron Technology, Inc.
David J. Lee Owner Collectors Choice
Mitchell D. Schultz President Gunsmithing LTD
Scott M Barylski Owner Blue Skies Enterprises
Dennis Veilleux President and CEO Colt’s Manufacturing Company LLC
Gregory Maglieri President Hartford Gun Club
David B. Lyman President Blue Trail Range Corp.
Gary M Curtiss Owner Country Handloader and Arms
David Henson Owner Henson Outfitters and Firearms
Bob Montlick President Bob’s Gun Exchange
Thomas S. Murray Owner Cupheag Armory Technical
Thomas Whitcomb Owner Housatonic Valley Firearms LLC
Vincent Sosnowski (OWNER) J&R Guns Enterprises & Sporting Goods
Carl J DelVecchio Owner The Outpost
Ronald J. Rondo Owner Ron’s Guns Inc
J.W. Hull, Jr. Owner, JW’s Gun Corner
Ken Palmero President Northern Dogs
Ronald Coburn Chairman & CEO Savage Sports Corp.
Luis Cabassa Owner Kapow Gunsmithing
Michael Vincent Pestilli, Manufacturers Representative Vincent A. Pestilli and Associates, Inc.
Michael B. Kubisek Owner Sentinel Arms
Robert L. Foege President Robert Louis Company, Inc.
Stephen Granoth Retail Firearms Dealer Phoenix Outfitters
James Debney President & CEO Smith & Wesson Holding Corp.
Ron Popolizio CEO Microbest Inc.
Art Cocchia President Precision Arms, Inc.
Steven Prindle (OWNER) Silver City Sporting Arms, Inc.
Iver Mossberg CEO O.F. Mossberg
Josh Fiorini CEO PTR Industries Inc.
Darrin M. Doucette Owner S.M.S. Guns
Stephen L. Sanetti President National Shooting Sports Foundation
Paul Campbell Director/Owner R&P Mfg., Inc
William Chapman (OWNER) Specialty Firearms
Mike Mola Owner Northeast Weaponry & Supplies, LLC.
Joel Cramer Owner Remarcable Arms
Michael Cortigiano, Jr. President Sportsmen’s Outpost, Inc.
Jason Marshall President Northwestern CT Sportsman’s Assoc.
Richard Panebianco (OWNER) Rick’s Guns
Leo J Jette Jr. President SPR of New Milford LLC
Gary L. Hutchison President SSI Manufacturing Technologies
Michael Higgins Owner/Members TGS OUTDOORS
Lisa Keller Vice President VTI Gun Parts
Mark T. Malkowski President Stag Arms
Tom Hall President Traditions Performance Firearms
Steve Pawl Vice President The Wilson Arms Company
Michael O. Fifer President and Chief Executive Officer Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc.
Richard Soboleski President USA Deaf Shooting, Inc.
Robert W. Powitz Owner Terry Plumâ€™s, LLC
Mark F. Ingram (OWNER) Valor Armorment Sales, LLC
Connecticut firearms industry members' letter to Gun Violence Prevention Task Force