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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Last night on his MSNBC show, Lawrence O’Donnell said National Rifle Association president Wayne LaPierre had “blood on his hands.” Today at a White House press briefing, President Obama said he hopes the NRA will “do some self-reflection.” But there is another powerful gun lobbying group that isn’t being talked about, and its headquarters are only three miles from the site where gun violence claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults.

The Newtown, CT-based National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) was formed in 1961 and claims a membership of over 7,000 “manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers.” Its mission statement is “to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports.”

According to a story in The New Republic, NSSF takes in $26 million a year and its lobbying arm spent $500,000 so far this year compared, to $100,000 in 2008 — and $20,000 was spent lobbying Connecticut state lawmakers on gun issues in 2012.

While NSSF only spent $26,000 in campaign contributions during the last election cycle, the organization was active on social media and its blog rallying its members to support pro-gun candidates via its #GunVote hashtag. Curiously, NSSF has removed all its election videos from its YouTube site. While it did not officially endorse the Romney-Ryan ticket as did the NRA, a look back at Facebook, Twitter and blog posts clearly shows NSSF favored the Republican candidates over President Obama and Vice President Biden.

In one blog post about the Democratic convention, NSSF called assault weapons “modern sporting rifles” and said  “it’s apparent that the slogan ‘Forward’ actually means the Democrats want to move backward with their nostalgia for the anti-gun fervor of the 90s.”

Here are some more excerpts from NSSF’s campaign blog:

 “The Republican platform plank on the Second Amendment is a breath of fresh air.”

“The question for gun owners, however, is whether the Obama-Biden ticket will respect traditional American values and rights such as the Second Amendment.”

“The key word in the Second Amendment — infringed — means the government has no business violating our right to keep and bear arms — period. There is no hedging, no ‘only if’ or ‘unless.’ Recent court decisions have upheld that reasoning.”

“Our rights are increasingly under assault by those who wish to see an end to our traditions.”

“Barack Obama now envisions not only a sweeping ban on rifles and shotguns – but is also considering new restrictions on handguns. Of course, as a state senator, Obama endorsed a total ban on the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns. Is Obama looking to travel back to the future in a potential second term?”

NSSF also puts together SHOT Show (Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show) every year in Las Vegas, an event they say is the “shooting, hunting and law enforcement industries’ largest trade show.” At the 2010 show, the FBI arrested 21 gun industry executives in a foreign bribery scheme. The charges were later dismissed.

The question now in post-Sandy Hook America is if organizations like the NRA and NSSF will get behind common-sense gun control legislation instead of seeing every gun safety proposal as a threat to their Second Amendment right to own a “modern sporting rifle,” otherwise known as an assault weapon. Perhaps their response to President Obama’s remarks today, published on the NSSF website, provides some hope:

“We listened with careful attention to President Obama’s statement from the White House today. Being one of the ‘stakeholders’ he discussed, we would welcome the opportunity at the appropriate time to become part of a full national conversation with all policy makers that has as its goal the improved protection of our children and our communities from future violence.”

Photo credit: www.nssf.org

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