Don’t Lie For The Other Guy – The Campaign Takes A New Twist

dont lieThe National Shooting Sports Foundation has been running an anti-gun trafficking campaign for many years called, Don’t Lie For the Other Guy. The campaign reminds gun owners that it’s a federal crime to go into a gun shop, lie on the background check form and then give the gun you’ve purchased to someone else who can’t purchase the gun themselves.  Most gun shop owners proudly display a campaign poster like the one in this blog, and just about every gun shop owner does a good job in supporting the campaign.

But in the wake of the Navy Yard shooting this campaign has taken on a new twist because one after another, NRA sympathizers and NRA-based pundits are lying like hell for the other guy, in this case, the NRA.  What are they lying about?  The alleged cause-and-effect between shootings and the existence of “gun free” zones.  This first became the NRA mantra after Newtown, when LaPierre called for a replacement of gun-free zones in schools with armed guards, a statement he repeated after the Navy Yard.  Now we have the same nonsense being promoted in the wake of Navy Yard shooting that took place on a military installation which was “de-gunned” by an Executive Order issued by President Clinton in 1993 (although the policy had been in force at many military bases unofficially under George Bush I.)

The latest version of the lie was produced last week by none other than John Lott, whose book on gun violence was based on data that he couldn’t actually produce, so I guess we can say that he probably doesn’t know when he’s lying or not.  In any case, he went on a TV talk show and said the following about mass shootings in ‘gun-free’ zones: “With few exceptions,  they’ve occurred where guns have been banned.”  He repeated the same comments in a Fox News blog.

He’s wrong.  The FBI data on mass shootings (4 or more victims) clearly shows that two-thirds of all mass shootings occur exactly the same place where all homicides occur – at or directly nearby the home of the victim.  What a surprise, that the location of mass shootings is basically the same as the location of all shootings.  But since most gun homicides start off as drug-related crimes or domestic arguments, where else are they going to take place?  In a school?

Maybe John Lott’s not lying for the NRA.  Maybe he hasn’t looked at the Uniform Crime Reports.  After all, he only touts himself as a leading expert on gun violence.  And once you’re a self-declared expert you don’t need to look at anything.  All you have to do is keep shooting your mouth off (pardon the pun.) But if Lott doesn’t know this data he doesn’t even deserve amateur status in the argument about guns.  if he does know the data, then he’s just lying for the other guy.

 

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Ever Hear About The NSSF? Not If You Don’t Own A Gun

 

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The biggest problem in dealing with the issue of gun violence is that the two sides don’t have the foggiest idea of what the other side is talking about.  The gun control people talk one language, the anti-gun control crowd speaks in a different tongue.  They talk to different audiences, they talk about different issues, they might as well be on different planets.  Want the latest example?  It comes from the gun control side.

 

The current issue of Atlantic Monthly magazine contains an article entitled, “The Gun Lobbying Group You Don’t Hear About” and it goes on to detail the activities of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, whose national office, ironically, is located right down the road from the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

 

The article details the extent to which the NSSF, which represents manufacturers, gun wholesalers and retailers, has of late stepped up its lobbying and PR efforts to match the influence and expenditures of the National Rifle Association.  In fact, the author makes the point that the NSSF’s role in the gun debate has of late become more important because people within the industry have begun to question the role and value of the NRA.

 

I’m not saying that the NSSF is a household word when it comes to pro or con discussions about guns.   And if you’re not a gun owner, or haven’t been to the annual gun trade show (aka the SHOT show) run by the NSSF in Las Vegas, there’s no reason that you should be aware of the organization’s existence or activities.  Furthermore, the NSSF’s President, Steve Sanetti, is a quiet, corporate guy who avoids the media spotlight about as diligently as Wayne LaPierre tries to attract it.

 

For all those reasons, you could argue that an article introducing the NSSF to the readership of a magazine like The Atlantic is a worthwhile exercise in investigative journalism.  There’s only one problem.  The NSSF has of late begun to promote several public campaigns that are not only a break with past industry strategies for defending themselves against the anti-gun crowd, but are designed to put the gun industry in the forefront of the debate about the issue that makes them most vulnerable, namely, the issue of gun safety.

 

Historically, the gun industry’s response to concerns about gun violence, as promoted by the NRA, was to argue that everyone would be safer if they had or were protected by a gun.  Remember Wayne LaPierre’s call for armed guards in schools following the massacre at Sandy Hook?  As a counterpoint, take a look at the new NSSF website promoting its ChildSafe campaign.  It’s direct, it’s clever and it calls for every gun owner to take a pledge to lock up or lack away all their guns – the American Academy of Pediatrics would be proud.

 

Mike Bloomberg campaigned hard for expanded background checks to eliminate or curtail “straw sales.”  For years the NSSF has sent literature and display posters to all its gun dealer members (myself included) promoting its “Don’t Lie For The Other Guy” campaign.  Now they are taking this message directly to the public with full-size, highway billboards that are being mounted in inner-city neighborhoods throughout the United States.

 

Don’t get me wrong.  The NSSF’s newly-found concern about safety and responsibility isn’t without its faults.  The distribution of gun locks, as The Atlantic article points out, was a PR sham.  And their attempt to convince us that military-style rifles are nothing more than the twenty-first century version of the traditional hunting rifle is a joke.  But when was the last time that Michael Bloomberg put up a roadside billboard that reminded people that straw sales were against the law?

 

 

 

When Is An Assault Rifle Not An Assault Rifle?

The origins of the term ‘Modern Sporting Rifle’ are somewhat obscure. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) claims that MSRs were the lever-action rifles developed by Spencer and later by Winchester with a tubular magazine that held 8-10 rounds. The rifles were shorter and lighter than standard infantry guns and were used primarily by cavalry units.  The Winchester repeater saw more frequent use during the two decades it took to pacify the various Plains Indian tribes, and from that time until the present continues to be favored by hunters primarily for short-distance deer shoots.

There’s only one problem with this little NSSF history lesson: The term ‘Modern Sporting Rifle” didn’t exist back when Spencer and Winchester made their rifles.  The term was coined, in fact, by the NSSF and the gun industry to get such products accepted by chain stores like Cabela’s that were at first reluctant to display military-style weapons in retail venues frequented by families (read: mothers and children.)  The gun industry portrays the design of these rifles as nothing more than just another example of consumer goods reflecting changing tastes, as in the following quote by NSSF President Steve Sanetti:

“Nothing looks like it did 50 or 100 years ago.” Today, this is the way a rifle looks. It doesn’t have a wood stock or blued steel. Yet it has become ‘America’s rifle.’”

But hold on a minute, Steve. There are many rifles out there today that look exactly like they looked fifty years ago. The semi-auto Remington 750, still a very popular gun, has been in production (with various name changes) since 1952. The Browning BAR, another semi-auto hunting rifle, hasn’t basically changed since 1967.

What’s changed is the gun industry’s attempt to make high-capacity, military-style rifles palatable with today’s political sensitivities, not today’s marketing tastes. When I bought my first Colt AR-15 forty-five years ago, nobody had any problem referring to it as an assault rifle. The term had been around since the end of World War II, when it first was applied to an automatic rifle, the StG 44, known as the sturmgewehr (which literally means ‘assault’ or ‘storm’) issued to units of the Wehrmacht in 1944.

The landscape began to change in 1994, when the Democrats, led by Dianne Feinstein, pushed through a ten-year ban on “assault” rifles as part of a national anti-crime bill. According to the NSSF and other gun industry mouthpieces, the use of the term ‘assault rifle,’ was an attempt by anti-gun elements to get rid of these weapons by creating the fiction that they were no different from rifles used by the military.  In fact, it wasn’t only liberal, anti-gun “elements” that ganged up on the poor, law-abiding assault rifle owners.  On the eve of the vote in Congress, the following letter was sent to Republican Congressmen, urging them to vote for the ban:

As a longtime gun owner and supporter of the right to bear arms, I, too, have carefully thought about this issue. I am convinced that the limitations imposed in this bill are absolutely necessary. I know there is heavy pressure on you to go the other way, but I strongly urge you to join me in supporting this bill. It must be passed.

The author of the letter, a really hard-core member of the liberal “element,” was Ronald Reagan.

The NSSF can say whatever it wants about why the Modern Sporting Rifle is different from military weapons, but the difference boils down to one thing, namely, that assault rifles used by the military are designed to shoot multiple rounds with one pull of the trigger (automatic) while the civilian versions require a separate trigger pull (semi-automatic) for every shot. But from a design and function perspective, this is hardly a game-changer, because most assault weapons carried by the military also provide the option of being fired on either automatic or semi-automatic mode.  In fact, most assault weapons carried by our guys and gals in combat zones shoot either one or two shots for each trigger pull, because the odds of putting more than two auto-fire shots on target are slim to none.

If anyone out there really believes that the purpose of making a civilian version of the assault rifle is to somehow lull consumers into thinking that they aren’t getting their hands on a military gun, consider the description of the product by Colt Firearms, the company that manufactured both the first military and civilian versions:

Colt’s rifles are the only rifles available to sportsmen, hunters and other shooters that are manufactured in the Colt factory and based on the same military standards and specifications as the United States issue Colt M16 rifle and M4 carbine.

So here we have the company that took Gene Stoner’s brilliant design, then converted it first into the AR-15 for civilian sales and then into the M16 for military use. That’s correct folks, the current Colt M4 rifle carried by our troops (and plenty of other combatants) started out as acommercial design that was adapted to military use – not the other way around.  Oh well, what’s a few facts when facts really don’t matter, right?ar