by Kimberly James
One Connecticut-based firearms industry trade group has spent more on lobbying than the National Rifle Association.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, an industry trade association based in Newtown, has spent 40% more than the NRA lobbying Congress since 2019. For 2021 alone, OpenSecrets – a nonpartisan nonprofit tracking money into politics – reports an estimated $5 million spent by NSSF on lobbying; the NRA spent $4.92 million.
NSSF represents more than 9,500 firearms manufacturers, retailers and shooting ranges.
Mark Oliva, managing director of public affairs for NSSF, told The Center Square that Connecticut’s Legislature has a history of being hostile toward Second Amendment rights and the gun industry.
Gun rights and legislation have recently been thrust into the spotlight following the spate of shootings across the nation, including in Buffalo, Uvalde and Tulsa.
“The laws needed to protect our communities are already on the books,” Oliva said. “While we welcome honest examination of legal remedies to prevent these tragedies, it would be dishonest to say that laws to prevent these tragedies from happening don’t exist. What didn’t exist was a will to act upon them.”
NSSF is a proponent for access to semi-automatic weapons, even though those same type of weapons were used in mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and other incidents across the nation.
“Semi-automatic firearm technology has existed since the late 1800s and has been commercially available since the early 1900s,” Oliva said. “AR-15-style rifles, or modern sporting rifle, have been commercially available since the early 1960s. These firearms operate no differently than the shogun I use for duck hunting or the handgun I use for self-defense.”
Oliva said the industry is not “willing to subjugate our fundamental, God-given rights to a government privilege because of the criminal actions of another.”
“NSSF is encouraged by the good faith discussions that have led to an agreed-upon framework for legislation,” Oliva said. “That good faith must be put into action with the drafting of the text of this legislation. That is where the agreements will either succeed or fall apart. There still remains serious concern.”
Oliva said due process rights must be protected.
“That is a Constitutional right. Definitions of prohibited individuals must be clearly defined. We are cautiously optimistic about these negotiations,” Oliva said.
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