Gun Manufacturers, ATF Joint Initiatives Pay Dividends, But Critical Gains Are Rarely Reported

While gun manufacturers are rarely cited for their work to promote gun safety, they're advancing important initiatives with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to keep firearms out of the wrong hands.

Gun Manufacturers, ATF Joint Initiatives Pay Dividends, But Critical Gains Are Rarely Reported

Photo: NSSF

Acting Director of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Thomas Brandon sent a letter to National Shooting Sports Foundation President Joe Bartozzi last week expressing gratitude for Operation Secure Store, a collaborative relationship to keep guns from those who should never possess them. 

“This comprehensive program of education and matching rewards has already led to improvements in business practices and the prevention of gun theft,” wrote ATF Acting Director Brandon. “I am sure that the continued partnership between ATF and NSSF in this endeavor will have a lasting impact, bringing violent criminals to justice and making communities safer for all.”

In the letter, Brandon expressed gratitude for the strong support from gun manufacturers through the NSSF, the industry’s trade association. Brandon also praised the success of the “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy,” another joint company between the two groups. The campaign is designed to prevent illegal “straw purchase” of firearms.

Operation Secure Store was launched in January 2018. The initiative is described as a program to “help Federal Firearms Licensees (FFL) make well-informed security-related decisions to deter and prevent thefts."

Tom Gresham, host of Gun Talk Radio, shared the ATF’s letter on his Twitter feed, adding, “Gun makers working to keep guns out of the wrong hands. Don’t expect (national media) coverage of this.”

At the time the program was launched, ATF’s Acting Director Brandon said, “it’s clear from the crime guns we recover every day that firearms stolen from FFL retailers are a serious threat to public safety. To mitigate this threat, ATF welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with the NSSF to educate and inform FFL retailers on how they can enhance the security of their businesses.”

More recently, at Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show) in January 2019, NSSF CEO Steve Sanetti talked about the negative portrayal of gun manufacturers and the work they are doing to promote gun safety through programs like Project ChildSafe and Operation Secure Store. “We are resolved to not let our many good works go unnoticed or be wrongly credited to others, and we will not be defined by others,” Sanetti said.

The NSSF does issue fact checks when people of influence get the facts wrong. One such check involved Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). While campaigning in New Hampshire earlier this year, Sen. Gillibrand said, “because the gun manufacturers only care about gun sales, they oppose the common sense reform that can save lives.” She added, “they want to oppose universal background checks because they want to sell an assault rifle to a teenager in a Walmart or to someone on a terror watch list or to someone who is gravely mentally ill with a violent background or to someone with a criminal conviction for a violent crime.”

In response, the NSSF offered this:

All of this is patently false.

Sen. Gillibrand was one of 78 co-sponsors of the Fix NICS legislation that overwhelmingly passed the Senate and President Trump signed into law. The federal legislation was modeled on the National Shooting Sports Foundation® initiative of the same name that worked to get states to submit all disqualifying criminal and adjudicated mental health records into the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Checks System (NICS). Let’s be clear: the same gun industry she has chosen to attack to try to attract Democratic primary voters was getting laws changed in 16 states before Congress even took up the matter.

Sen. Gillibrand signed her name to the bill – and voted for – legislation brought by the very manufacturers she claims want to sell guns to everyone. She knows better.

Maybe Sen. Gillibrand has conveniently forgotten that the firearms industry was the originator of the point-of-sale instant background check, to ensure that only those who could be legally entrusted to possess a gun could buy them.

The senator also should know that so-called universal background checks are aimed at private gun sales, not the sales by retailers to private citizens that are already subject to background checks. The truth is she wants to make illegal the transfer of firearms between private parties. The firearms industry, however, cannot support making a criminal of an individual selling a friend a keepsake firearm or lending a shotgun for a duck hunt.

In the fact-check article posted to NSSF’s website, the organization cited other false statements made by Gillibrand and countered those statements with data and resources to substantiate each response. 


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