Gun Industry Group Says Dems Likely to Push Gun Control, Drive Gun Sales

National Shooting Sports Foundation reacts to midterm elections

Getty Images
• November 15, 2018 11:15 am


The firearms industry's trade group said on Thursday they believe next year's Democratic majority in the House of Representatives will push a wide range of gun-control legislation once they are seated and that new focus on gun regulations will likely drive up sales.

Larry Keane, senior vice president and general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), told the Washington Free Beacon he fully expects the new House majority to begin passing a series of new gun-control measures as soon as they take office in January.

"Obviously, we will see a lot of chatter and activity on the gun-control front in the House under Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Jerry Nadler (D., N.Y.) as the chairman of Judiciary [Committee]," Keane said. "I would expect that they will try to pass gun control. Assault-weapons ban, magazine capacity restrictions, smart-gun mandates, microstamping mandates. The whole panoply of gun-control panaceas."

Keane said the expected tide of new gun-control legislation combined with support from likely 2020 presidential candidates will probably drive new gun sales.

"I would expect as they start increasing [gun-control] legislation, it would be predictable that you would probably see an increase in sales," he said. "The Democrats at the national level are breaking hard, hard left on policy issues including gun control. They are openly talking about banning the most popular rifle in America, trying to restrict the ability to defend yourself. All to undermine the Second Amendment."

While Keane said he was wary about comments President Trump made advocating for new gun measures earlier this year, he remains optimistic the Senate and the president will stop new gun-control measures from making it into law, especially since the Senate will now have more Republicans than before.

"We had some comments coming out of the White House after Parkland that were at times disconcerting," he said. "But the Senate has become more pro-gun. I wouldn't think it likely that anything the House passes would move in the Senate."

Spending by gun interests in the midterm elections shifted radically this cycle with gun-control groups outspending gun-rights groups for the first time in a generation. Gun-control interests ended up spending far more than they did in 2016 and marginally more than they did in 2014.

Keane decried the increased spending of gun-control groups funded in large part by activist billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

"I think part of this is that Bloomberg spent a lot of money because he wants to run for president," he said. "He's using his checkbook, I believe, to secure support from many, many Democrats. People will be beholden to him for the money he spent to flip the House, but I don't believe he will achieve any of his legislative priorities on the gun-control front."

However, Keane also pointed to complacency among gun-rights activists as a root cause of the large decline in pro-gun election spending power.

"When people view that there's a threat to their gun rights, we see an increases in sales. When people don't perceive a threat, sales go down," Keane said. "So, I think there's a little bit of that going on. People think, ‘Well, Trump will veto anything, and it won't get past the Senate.'"

Ultimately, he said the election results will have serious consequences for the legislation that gun-rights activists have identified as top priorities over the past several years.

"National reciprocity won't pass the House again in this Congress that's coming up," Keane said. "You won't see the Hearing Protection Act move in the 116th Congress unfortunately. The window of opportunity to try and get those pieces of legislation done is closed at least for the foreseeable future."

Instead, Keane said NSSF would focus on legislation it believes could make it into law over the next two years. He said the group would be feeling out new members of the House to see what they might support going forward.

"Other things like our range bill, sportsman legislation, pro-hunting legislation can still move," he said. "We'll have to see. Not all of the Democrats who have been elected are hardcore antigun. You look at [Pennsylvania Democrat] Conor Lamb, he said he won't support an assault weapons ban and won't vote for Nancy Pelosi. So, we'll have to go through and evaluate the new Democrats who are coming in and find out where they're going to stand on issues."

NSSF remains opposed to new forms of gun control and said the recent attack on a bar in California that left 12 dead was evidence even the strictest gun laws can't stop horrific attacks.

"As this incident in Thousand Oaks, Calif., shows, you can have all the gun control you want but how do you stop a crazy person that has evil in their heart?" Keane said. "I don't have an answer for that but gun control doesn't solve that problem."

Instead, Keane said NSSF is committed to programs it believes will prevent criminals from stealing guns from gun dealers, prevent accidental shootings involving children, prevent gun suicides, and increase the rate at which disqualifying records are added to the FBI's background check system.

"We remain focused on having effective programs that actually help to make America safer like Fix NICS," he said. "There are still many, many records that are not in the system. Still many states have not put records in—Montana, Wyoming, and New Hampshire for example. We still don't have reports being submitted by federal agencies. That continues to be a focus."