A day after Obama's call for sweeping gun safety reforms, the firearms industry remains mostly mum -- as thousands remain in Las Vegas for the annual trade show.
In Connecticut, as elsewhere, the firearms industry continues to portray the problem as access to firearms, rather than the equipment itself, in the few statements that are out there.
"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," a statement on the web site of the National Shooting Sports Foundation said.
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The foundation, based in Newtown, sponsors the annual Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT show) and conference, which has attracted 60,000 industry professionals this week.
Local companies that make and market variants of the AR-15 rifle, such as Colt Defense, Colt's Manufacturing Co., Sturm, Ruger & Co., Stag Arms and Springfield-based Smith & Wesson have said little or nothing about the debate. NSSF, for its part, is avoiding the sort of divisive comments and advertisements deployed by the National Rifle Association, which angered many with its "elitist hypocrite" advertisement calling attention to armed guards at the school that Obama's children attend.
"All Americans share the goal of wanting to make our communities and children safer by reducing violence in our society, like the tragic incident that occurred last month in our community of Newtown, Conn.," NSSF said in its web site statement. "We are reviewing Vice President Biden's recommendations with an open mind in hopes they will offer real means of achieving our shared goal."
It added that it supports expanding the criminal database system to include mental health records — but did not directly address the three bans Obama proposed.
Clearly, defining "military-style assault weapons" will be a stumbling block as it was in the 1994-2004 federal ban — when manufacturers easily got around it. I listed that and several other problems with equipment bans in a column right after the Dec. 14 Newtown tragedy.
A ban on high-capacity magazines should be easier to enact for two reasons: The magazines are not a big money-maker for manufacturers and it's easier to define what they are in the law. Still, privately, some people in the industry believe they can't be out-front supporting any kind of equipment bans, for fear of a backlash from customers.
The industry is "misunderstood," said NSSF President and CEO Steve Sanetti, in his "state of the industry" speech at the SHOT show. "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."
-- Dan Haar