July 05, 2020
By Joe Bartozzi
The following perspective is from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
Guns are flying off the shelves these days, but at the same time the most important commodity in the firearms marketplace is free and invaluable: That's responsible and safe firearm ownership.
”It’s important that we all understand the responsibility," explained Jon Ogawa of Grandpa’s Pawn and Gun in Longmont, Colo., in a recent WAMU report.
NSSF surveys show that firearm retailers believe 40 percent of all gun purchases this year have been to first-time buyers. Americans bought more than 2.1 million firearms in June alone and with each purchase comes the responsibility to be a safe and educated gun owner.
Jeanelle Westrom, owner of Davenport Guns in Davenport, Iowa, reinforced that sentiment. "There’s just a lot to do. There’s a lot to know, and making the purchase is just the first step," she said. "Training, training, training.”
The firearm industry has made safety, education and training the pillars of responsible gun ownership. That’s a constant maxim that applies all the time, not just during periods of elevated sales and a wave of new gun owners. Firearm owners must have access to the resources they need to become educated and safe.
Safe Storage at Home
The first consideration a gun purchaser must consider along with a gun purchase is safe home storage. Securing a gun when it’s not carried or in use is critical to reducing firearm accidents. It’s also easily accomplished with the free locking device that’s included by the manufacturer with each new gun. NSSF’s Project ChildSafe® program partners with more than 15,000 law enforcement agencies and community partners to distribute free firearm safety kits that include a gun lock, contributing to the more than 100 million locking devices provided by industry to gun owners free of charge. Each firearm owner should continually assess their own storage needs, and NSSF provides resources to help. First-time owners will benefit by reviewing Project ChildSafe’s buying your first firearm infographic.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock praised the effectiveness of gun locks at a recent distribution in his community, sponsored by NSSF through a partnership with the Denver Police Department. He encouraged his fellow citizens to access the free locks and do their part to secure firearms. "We want to empower every resident to make a difference," Mayor Hancock said.
Since NSSF launched Project ChildSafe in 1999, the gun lock giveaway program has distributed more than 38 million free firearm safety kits including a firearm cable lock through similar events in communities across the country. That includes all 50 states, five U.S. territories and involving more than 15,000 local law enforcement agencies. Already in 2020, lock giveaway events have occurred in Denver, Colo., San Antonio, Texas, Everett, Wash., and more to name a few.
San Antonio Councilman Manny Palaez spoke at the Texas lock handout and summed up the importance of the free locks, saying, "There should never be an excuse for anyone in San Antonio for not having a lock on your gun.”
Practice and Training
Buying a gun and leaving it safely stored isn't a panacea either. After a purchase, owners must become familiar, comfortable and confident in handling their firearm. That comes with practice. During the coronavirus pandemic, NSSF fought to ensure community shooting ranges were deemed "essential" and that they were largely allowed to remain open. Local law enforcement agencies use shooting ranges for service practice, but every day lawful citizens also use them for training, whether it's for recreational shooting or state-required training for concealed carry permits. Each opportunity gives gun owners additional firearm familiarity and the confidence to properly handle the gun safely and accurately.
Even in the new normal of social distancing and self-quarantining, new firearm owners can use new tools to familiarize themselves with safe handling. Web tutorials and online videos abound with instructions and lessons for gun handling. Specific programs like Gun University offer additional educational resources for firearm beginners and those with experience alike. Firearm owners looking for more information about educational resources and tutorials on safe handling should keep the NSSF website bookmarked for quick and easy reference.
Industry Efforts Paying Off
The firearm industry knows it's incumbent upon existing gun owners to welcome newcomers into the community and to encourage first-time buyers to pursue all options available for firearm safety. It's every gun owner's responsibility. These safety programs and resources have shown excellent results with 2018 recording the lowest level of unintended firearm fatalities since data was first tracked in 1903.
As millions of new gun owners join the family, encouraging safe practices and safe handling are more important than ever in order to keep those positive numbers moving in the right direction.
#GUNVOTE 2020: Help Drive Voter Registration
2020 is a critical election year for our industry and could very well determine the future of our Second Amendment rights. It is crucial that all segments of our industry help inform employees and customers on the importance of registering to vote. NSSF is urging all businesses in our industry to download and display NSSF's #GUNVOTE icon on your company's website and also to incorporate #GUNVOTE messages into social media campaigns. Download everything you need here, and then link to gunvote.org, where visitors can find voter registration information in their states and other helpful resources.
National Shooting Sports Foundation aims to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers nationwide.