Giving Back With NSSF’s President Joe Barto

By Joe Bartozzi

Trade associations rarely have a direct connection with consumers. Everyone eats at a restaurant from time to time, but few outside the dining industry know much about the National Restaurant Association. We all love July 4th fireworks, but did you know that the makers of those beautiful displays are backed by the American Pyrotechnics Association? And that new grill you just bought? Its manufacturer is likely a member of the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association.  

The National Shooting Sports Foundation[Symbol] (NSSF[Symbol]) is the trade association for the firearms industry. We count among our members thousands of manufacturers, distributors, importers and exporters, retailers, firearms range owners, outdoor press members, and the many hunting and conservation groups that connect our industry’s products with you, the person buying today’s firearms, ammunition, and gear. But unlike the International Housewares Association or the Bread Bakers Guild of America, we absolutely have a direct connection with you.  

Real Solutions for Safer Communities 

We at NSSF are extremely proud that our industry has been a leading voice for genuine firearms safety. 2019 marked the 20th anniversary of Project ChildSafe,[Symbol] a cornerstone of our Real SolutionsSM for Safer Communities (NSSFRealSolutions.org) initiative. It is estimated that, in the past 20 years, Project ChildSafe (ProjectChildSafe.org) has distributed over 38 million firearm safety education kits—which include a free cable-style gun lock—through more than 15,000 law enforcement and community partners. Today, accidental firearm deaths are just one percent of all firearms-related deaths and accidents, and we credit Project ChildSafe for contributing to that very low number. 

A natural offshoot to Project ChildSafe has been NSSF’s dedication to educating the public and our industry about suicide prevention. Nearly two-thirds of all firearms related fatalities are suicides. Our efforts include a retailer and gun-owner awareness program, in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and a community-awareness partnership with the Veterans Administration and the Department of Defense to help prevent veteran suicides.  

Working to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t possesses them is always an NSSF priority. It was the firearms industry that conceived the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for every firearm sold at retail. Our industry championed the bipartisan Fix NICS Act in Congress, which works to have all disqualifying records, including mental health and criminal records, submitted into the NICS system so that the background-check system works as intended. The bill, signed into law last year by President Trump, was named after NSSF’s ongoing FixNICS® campaign. Since the campaign’s launch in 2013, NSSF has successfully changed the law in 16 states and increased submissions of disqualifying records from 1.7 million to over 5.6 million today—an increase of 241 percent

Other initiatives, including our Operation Secure Store and “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy”work with firearm retailers and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to prevent burglaries and robberies of firearms and illegal “straw” purchases, respectively. 
 

Increasing Participation in Hunting and the Shooting Sports 

NSSF is, of course, focused on introducing new people to hunting and shooting to help secure a strong future for the traditions we all enjoy.  

NSSF’s First Shots[Symbol] events connect people who have never handled firearms with ranges and instructors who take them from the basics of firearm safety to hitting the bullseye in just a few hours. August 2019 ushered in our third annual National Shooting Sports Month[Symbol], with retailers and ranges hosting more than 3,000 events across the country. And NSSF’s +ONESM Movement is inspiring hundreds of thousands of experienced hunters and shooters to take someone new to the range or field. Bolstered by the +ONE Pledge, which can be found at LetsGoHunting.org and LetsGoShooting.org, the movement is receiving national attention.  

Protecting Our Rights  

NSSF represents and advocates for every segment of the hunting and shooting sports industry on Capitol Hill and in state capitols nationwide. We continue to grow our government-relations efforts, resulting in many key legislative successes in our mission to promote, protect, and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. In 2019, these successes included passage of the federal Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Act and expanded Sunday-hunting opportunities. 

Please visit NSSF.org and NSSFRealSolutions.org to learn more about what we do. Our websites LetsGoShooting.org and LetsGoHunting.org are also outstanding resources for hunters and shooters of all skill levels—and we especially encourage you to use them when taking the +ONE Pledge and introducing someone new to the shooting sports.  

Visit NSSF: https://www.nssf.org/

JBartozzi