Shot Show: Gun Retailers Urged to Get Political, Connect with Grassroots
In the wake of local, state, and federal pushes to further regulate the firearm industry in the United States, National Shooting Sports Foundation's (NSSF) Jake McGuigan told attendees at the trade organization's annual SHOT Show in Las Vegas that it is imperative for more firearm retailers to be politically active.
While the NSSF and National Rifle Association (NRA) have worked together on various issues regarding Second Amendment protections, the NSSF focuses on the business policies of the firearms industry, while the NRA's focus is on the right to own a firearm.
"Retailers really need to wake up. I can't tell you how many states I've been in where I asked a retailer, 'Hey, can you put this alert out? Can you do this?' [The retailer responds,] 'I don't want to get political.' I don't want to get political?" asked McGuigan, who is NSSF's Director of Government Relations and State Affairs.
"That unfortunately hurts us, but people that depend on the firearms [for whom it's their] livelihood, I think, really need to wake up. It's not getting political. The opponents made it political. It's not political. It's your livelihood and it our constitutional right," he emphasized.
McGuigan does not buy the argument that firearm business owners do not have enough time during the week to put aside 30 minutes or so to be aware of and active in the ongoings of Second Amendment policy that could affect them and their customers.
"You're running your business seven days a week, 24 hours a day, so I truly understand [you're busy], but you'd only be taking a half to an hour out of the week. And really, it's only from January to June [as] that's when state legislatures meet. And the feds are always in session," he said. "They move a lot slower, but states move at warp speed. They introduced a bill in January and it'll be law in June, so that's usually a six month limit."
Other reasons McGuigan has heard in the past that gun businesses are reluctant to engage in Second Amendment discourse are that powerful politicians do not listen to them and that retailers are uncomfortable with the entire process.
According to McGuigan, retailers' involvement should begin in their stores and can branch out to their friends' living rooms, email lists, social events, community meetings, and hearings. He urges potential activists to learn who their local leaders are as well as of other interested businesses, sportsmen's clubs, national gun groups like the NSSF and the NRA, their local chamber of commerce, and local economic development groups.