More than a week has passed since our nation was shaken with the heart-wrenching news of the horrific and senseless murders that struck in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. It has been a time of thoughtful prayer for the victims and their families, searching for answers and real solutions.
During that same time, the National Shooting Sports Foundation chose to remain silent out of respect for the victims lost and those healing, their families and the communities as we all come to grips with the shattered sense of safety. There is a time for everything and a season for every activity. This was a season for mindful respect, mourning and healing.
Sadly, others chose differently and used this time to vilify, politicize, fundraise and hurl invectives at those who disagree with their own views and beliefs. We chose not to fuel the anger that too often colors these debates in the immediate aftermath of a tragic event. We did not, however, waiver in our convictions or beliefs.
We reject the division that has been offered by some as the way forward. We believe there is a better way and we choose that path. We are willing to engage in a respectful and constructive dialogue with anyone to search for the common ground and real solutions to make our communities safer.
Our hearts are broken by these tragic murders. They defy any semblance of logical explanation. We pray for the victims and their families as we all try to understand events that defy easy explanations. We grieve the loss of innocent lives. We are humbled by the bravery of law enforcement and first responders’ swift response. We are grateful for the medical community that works to save lives and heal victims.
This much is clear. These crimes are abhorrent. The criminals who misused their firearms against our neighbors and loved ones are a scourge on our communities. They are not us. We won’t be defined by criminals. They do not represent the more than 100 million law-abiding Americans who responsibly keep and bear arms every day.
We won’t let others paint us with the broad brush of misinformation.
We are the firearms industry, the same industry that conceived of and supports the national instant criminal background check system for every firearm sold at retail. We are the industry that championed the bipartisan Fix NICS Act in Congress that was signed into law to ensure all disqualifying mental health and criminal records are submitted to make sure our background check system works as intended. The bill was named after our ongoing FixNICS campaign launched in 2013 to have the states submit disqualifying records to NICS to keep guns out of the hands of those that should not have them. Since 2013, we have successfully changed the law in 16 states and increased submissions of disqualifying records from 1.7 million to over 5.3 million today, an increase of 220 percent.
It is the National Shooting Sports Foundation that created ProjectChildSafe, the partnership with 15,000 law enforcement agencies throughout the country that has distributed over 38 million firearms safety kits that include free gun lock in every state and U.S. territory. The firearms industry also has a long-standing partnership with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to prevent straw purchases of firearms through our Don’t Lie for the Other Guy campaign. It is the firearms industry that is committed to ensuring firearms stay out of the hands of those who should never possess them.
The firearms industry is committed to responsible solutions for safer communities. We are willing to come alongside anyone committed to the ideals of ensuring and promoting responsible firearms ownership, safeguarding lives and protecting our rights.
This is our commitment and these are our communities. We won’t surrender them to murderers and we won’t give in to demagoguery or politicization. Our neighbors deserve better.
For those who believe in a better way, who believe in protecting innocent lives and respecting rights, join us in the middle ground. We have been waiting to have this conversation.
Joe Bartozzi is the president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association.
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