U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- An extensive schedule of visits to U.S. Representatives and Senators is on the docket for a full roster of NSSF member industry executives attending this week’s 10th Annual Congressional Fly-in. NSSF Fly-In teams will underscore the importance of the industry’s economic impact and cover a variety of topics important to the protection and promotion of American’s shooting sports and hunting traditions.
This year the Fly-In coincides with the Senate’s confirmation votes for Judge Neil Gorsuch to become the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a truly landmark process that will have long-term effects on the firearms and ammunition industry.
As NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Larry Keane noted earlier this month “… it is important to remember what is at stake and why NSSF supports Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. Judge Gorsuch is slated to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, author of the 2008 Heller decision, upholding individual right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment. … The Supreme Court is split 4-4 along ideological lines. Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation would sustain the court balance that existed prior to Justice Scalia’s death. More importantly, it would give the court a jurist with a record of sticking to a strict interpretation of the Constitution.”
Confirmation Votes for Judge Neil Gorsuch
Judge Neil GorsuchThe U.S. Senate is expected to hold two key votes, ultimately deciding whether Judge Neil Gorsuch will become the next Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) scheduled the committee vote for Monday, April 3 after Ranking Member Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) requested a one-week vote delay. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) scheduled a vote by the full Senate April 7, setting the stage for expectation the judge’s nomination will clear the committee and be ready for the confirmation vote.
Judge Gorsuch’s nomination vote is setting up a battle within the Senate. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is threatening to filibuster.
So far, more than half of the Senate Democrats have publicly stated they will vote against confirming the judge to the Supreme Court. Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) have broken ranks and publicly voiced their intent to vote to confirm Judge Gorsuch, leaving a small group of key Democrat Senators who have not decided their votes. Some of those undecided votes, and others who publicly who stated they would not vote for Judge Gorsuch, have added they will vote for cloture, the procedure that ends debate and moves to a vote. If Sen. Schumer moves to filibuster, Sen. McConnell has indicated he would invoke the “nuclear option,” reducing the votes required to overcome a filibuster to a simple majority instead of consensus of 60 votes. To keep that from happening, eight senators must break ranks to join the 52 Republicans to force the vote.
Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2017 Introduced in Senate, Quickly Approved in Committee
The U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources quickly took action on S.733, the Sportsmen’s Act of 2017, which Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced on Monday, along with Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), both members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, and CSC leaders Sens. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).
The legislative package addresses several long-standing issues for sportsmen, including pursuing an “open unless closed” policy for federal lands for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting. The legislative package also addresses transportation of bows and crossbows through National Parks, reducing required fees and permits from film crews of three or less on federal lands, implementing the “Hunt Unrestricted on National Treasures” (HUNT) Act, providing states more flexibility using Pittman-Robertson funds for range construction and maintenance as well as establishing the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee to advise the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture on sportsmen’s issues.
Similar legislation stalled in a joint House-Senate conference committee last year.
Doctors Urge Congress Pass Hearing Protection Act
Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership published a white paper this week saying suppressors are the best medicine to prevent hearing loss from the sound of gunfire. The group stated that making suppressors more readily available to the American public is “a critical health intervention.” The doctors group supports passing of the Hearing Protection Act of 2017 in the U.S. House of Representatives as H.R.367 and the Senate as S.59. Read the blog post from the NSSF’s Larry Keane.
Georgia Sends NSSF-Backed Industry Protection Legislation to Governor
The Georgia General Assembly recently gave its approval to House Bill 292, legislation that would make many pro-gun reforms to the state’s firearms laws, including language to protect Georgia’s firearms industry. Late in session, the Georgia Senate Judiciary Committee added a number of amendments, including the NSSF-backed Georgia Firearms Industry Nondiscrimination Act (FIND Act). HB 292 was approved by the Georgia Senate 37-16, and agreed to by the Georgia House of Representatives. The FIND Act language would protect Georgia’s firearms businesses from being discriminated against solely because they are involved in the lawful commerce of firearms or ammunition products. If enacted, Georgia would be the first state to provide such protection. Please contact Gov. Deal today and urge him to sign HB 292 into law.
Connecticut Manufacturers Meet Assembly Leaders
Connecticut-based manufacturers this week traveled to the State Capitol in Hartford to discuss legislative priorities impacting the firearms business in the state with the General Assembly leadership from both sides of the aisle. Representatives from Colt’s Manufacturing, O.F. Mossberg & Sons and Sturm, Ruger & Co. pointed out the continuing importance of the firearms and ammunition industry to the state’s economy. In fact, the industry’s manufacturing, distribution, sales and supply-related activities have a total economic impact of more than $1.2 billion in Connecticut. There was also concern expressed about Governor Malloy’s large proposed pistol permit fee increases and how that will have a detrimental effect on customers throughout the state.
Montana Bill to Safeguard Hunting, Fishing Passes Senate
The Montana Senate this week approved Senate Bill 236 by a vote of 30-20. Introduced by State Sen. Jennifer Fielder and supported by NSSF, SB 236 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would protect the right to hunt, fish and trap for future generations. Currently, 21 states have constitutional protections guaranteeing the right to hunt and fish. This bill has been transmitted to the Montana House of Representatives where it has been referred to the Judiciary Committee.
Minnesota Legislature Moves Bill to Protect Traditional Ammunition
The Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives moved one step closer to curtailing the state Dept. of Natural Resources’ proposal to ban lead shot for hunting in the farmland zone. NSSF has worked to include language in each of the chambers’ natural resources finance bills (HF 888 and SF 723) that would prohibit the DNR commissioner from adopting rules that would further restrict the use of lead shot. Each of these bills has been approved by their respective chamber.
Maryland Apprentice Hunting Bill Scheduled for Hearing Next Week
The Maryland Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee is scheduled to consider legislation that would create an apprentice hunting license. This hearing will take place on Tuesday, April 4, at 1 p.m. Supported by NSSF, House Bill 1427 would create an apprentice hunting license that is good for one hunting season after the apprentice has completed a short online safety course. Such a program will allow more first time hunters to go afield with an experienced mentor prior to completing an extensive hunter education course, which can often take a whole weekend to complete. As part of the Families Afield coalition, NSSF will continue to support these efforts throughout the country.
California Hearing on April 4 to Change Warning Label Requirements for Manufacturers, Retailers
The California Assembly Public Safety Committee is scheduled to consider legislation on Tuesday, April 4, at 9 a.m. that would change the warning labels for all firearms purchased or transferred in the state, as well as the signage retailers must display. Assembly Bill 1525 makes substantive changes to the current warning labels required on manufacturers’ packaging of firearms and accompanying materials. See the proposed language versus current state law here.
The additional notices and postings proposed in AB 1525 would add nothing of significant public safety value to what is already required, but would needlessly add to the production and distribution costs of manufacturers and the operational costs of retailers. In fact, having longer warnings may dissuade firearms purchasers from reading the warnings at all, doing the exact opposite of the bill sponsor’s intentions.
Calif. Senate Panel Postpones Gun Rationing Bill
The California Senate Public Safety Committee was scheduled to consider Senate Bill 497 this week, but postponed that hearing at the last minute at the request of the bill’s author. This is good news for now, but this legislation could be brought up for consideration at some point in the future. SB 497 would expand on California's one handgun per month law to prohibit the acquisition of more than one firearm per month, including both handguns and long guns, with very limited exceptions. NSSF expressed serious concern with the bill and will continue to stand opposed as it will do nothing to increase public safety, but will only burden law-abiding gun owners and negatively impact firearm retailers.
Penn. Preemption Bill Comes Out of Committee
The Pennsylvania State Senate Local Government Committee this week approved Senate Bill 5, by an 8-3 vote and it will now head to the Senate floor for a full vote. This legislation seeks to strengthen the state’s current preemption statute regarding firearms and ammunition. Senate Bill 5, sponsored by state Sen. Wayne Langerholc Jr. (R-35), and House Bill 671, sponsored by state Rep. Mark Keller (R-86), would help to clarify existing law to ensure that firearm and ammunition laws are consistent. NSSF is asking Pennsylvania residents to contact their state Senator and urge them to support these important bills.
Penn. Game Commission Falls Short for Hunters
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners Tuesday was supposed to take a final vote on the approval of semi-auto rifles to be used for all hunting after unanimously approving such tentative rules last month. Unfortunately, that was not the case as the Commission did not approve the use of semi-auto rifles for all hunting seasons. Even though comments came in supporting the use of these firearms for all hunting, the Commission decided to approve the use of them only for small game. The Game Commission will be meeting in June for further rulemaking and it can be hoped will reconsider the use of semi-auto rifles for big game hunting.
West Virginia Sunday Hunting Passes House Panel
The West Virginia House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on Tuesday, on SB 345, which has already passed the Senate by an overwhelming 26-6 margin. Sponsored by Sen. Mark Maynard, the bill would expand Sunday hunting opportunities on private land with written permission. After the passage of Sunday hunting on private property in all 11 West Virginia counties where it was on the November 2016 ballot, NSSF has been focused on legislation to allow Sunday hunting throughout the state. NSSF will be in attendance for the hearing to testify and will continue to work to ensure passage.
Illinois Retailer Licensing Comes Out of Committee
NSSF testified in opposition to SB1657 at an Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week, but to no avail. On Wednesday after a week delay, the committee passed SB1657. This onerous legislation will now go to the Senate floor where it will await full consideration. The legislation sponsored by Sen. Don Harmon would create duplicative, demanding and unnecessary regulations seemingly intended to regulate gun retailers out of business in Illinois. NSSF continues to urge Illinois residents to contact their state senator and express opposition to this bill.
Another Illinois Attack on Free Markets
In another attack on the Illinois firearms industry, legislators in Springfield are promoting legislation, HB2764 to ban products from being sold on state-owned property that are not manufactured in Illinois. This legislation directly impacts the World Shooting Complex at Sparta, Illinois. Manufacturers and retailers clearly must sell firearms and accessories made everywhere in the world. By supporting this measure, some legislators are clearly demonstrating their hostility to the Second Amendment. Legislation seeking bans on traditional ammunition and creating dealer licensing are the other attacks currently underway on the firearms industry. State residents must let your legislator know that they should oppose HB 2764 and keep the World Shooting Sports Complex at Sparta open for business.
What is the ATF NFRTR?
NFA compliance is aided by having a strong understanding of products being manufactured, imported, or transferred. It also requires having an understanding of the numerous ATF NFA Forms and the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (or the “NFRTR”). Every day, licensees submit NFA-related forms that populate the NFRTR without having a full understanding of its design and purpose. The latest Orchid Advisors post, “What is the ATF NFRTR,” provides a visual depiction of the record design and purpose and includes helpful hints for improving your NFA compliance. Orchid Advisors is an approved compliance information provider for NSSF members.
Industry Compliance Conference, May 8-10
CaliforniaOrchid Advisors and NSSF will present the fourth annual Firearms Industry Compliance Conference, May 8-10, 2017 at the Westin Arlington Gateway, Arlington, Virginia. The Firearms Industry Compliance Conference features accomplished industry experts who share their real world experience to discuss how you can navigate the intersection of legislation, regulation, and compliance, with operations, logistics, and technology.
Signing Up for NSSF PAC Easy for Member Companies
NSSF PAC LogoThe NSSF PAC works to support pro-firearms industry, pro-Second Amendment and pro-sportsmen candidates for federal office. Federal law requires a trade association PAC to obtain prior approval from its corporate members before it may send important PAC news, including current political news, election information and exclusive invitations to PAC events and updates, to corporate member executives. Now, signing up for NSSF PAC has never been easier. Just click the link below, fill out the form, add contacts (or email us a list of names) and hit submit! What are you waiting for? Help ensure our industry is heard. Sign up today! Online PAC Prior Consent Form.
Invite Your Elected Officials to Visit Your Facility
U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) visited The Range 307 in Gillette and met the staff (left to right): Nichole Shelstad, Del Shelstad, Sen. Mike Enzi, Shirley Wright, Tom Bybee and Jason Hawk. U.S. Sen Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) recently visited The Range 307 in Gillette to learn first-hand about the range’s impact on the local community and hear about issues of concern to the industry as a whole, such as the Hearing Protection Act now before Congress. NSSF encourages members to invite your U.S. Senators and Representatives or state legislators to visit your facility with this easy-to-use “Take Your Elected Official to Work” guide.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 6,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen's organizations and publishers. For more information, log on to www.nssf.org.