To the Editor:
On March 13, Newtown resident Barbara Richardson wrote a public letter to National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) president Steve Sanetti, imploring him to “accept responsible limitations on [gun owners’] freedoms in the interest of the greater public good.”
Sanetti’s response was as predictable as it was discouraging. No, he told her, NSSF will not accept “heaping additional restrictions on responsible firearms owners” just “to ‘do something’” in the aftermath of a massacre in which 20 children and six adults were brutally killed by a mentally disturbed young man armed with an AR-15 assault rifle and 30-round ammunition magazines. Such an effort to prevent future tragedies would be “misplaced.”
And then it was time for Sanetti to play the blame game. It was entirely Nancy Lanza’s fault that the Sandy Hook massacre occurred, he explained, because she failed to keep her “lawfully purchased firearms properly secured, inaccessible to her deeply troubled son.”
But what about the fact that NSSF has lobbied at the federal and state level to ensure that semiautomatic versions of battlefield rifles are available on the civilian market? What about NSSF’s consistent and virulent opposition to any laws that would mandate the safe storage of firearms in the home and hold gun owners criminally accountable when unauthorized users gain access to their weapons? Forget about it, Sanetti tells us. Focus on Nancy Lanza and other individuals who negligently arm deranged killers. NSSF bears no responsibility as an organization for this state of affairs.
To call that argument offensive is an understatement.
Sanetti’s letter was also riddled with distortions and outright fabrications. He asserts that the gun industry created our background check system for gun buyers. To the contrary, it was the Brady Bill that did that. Jim and Sarah Brady lobbied for six years for the enactment of this legislation against the outright opposition of the NRA and gun lobby. Once it became law, the NRA funded lawsuits in nine different states attempting (unsuccessfully) to have the law voided entirely.
Sanetti’s claims about microstamping technology—which imprints a code representing the serial number of a firearm onto ejected cartridge cases as the weapon is fired—are equally ridiculous. The current NIBIN ballistics identification system, which analyzes unintentional markings, identifies crime guns only 1.5 percent of the time. The inventor of microstamping technology has conducted multiple stress tests with microstamped handguns (during which 1,500 rounds or more were fired) where legible markings were made 95% or more of the time.
Finally, a study published in the Journal of Trauma, Injury, Infection, and Critical Care in 2010 found that the accidental firearm death rate in the United States was 5.2 times higher than that of 22 other populous high-income countries combined. That’s pitiful by any reasonable standard.
Barbara Richardson was right to request that Sanetti and NSSF work with government to find solutions to uniquely American horrors like Sandy Hook. In the face of his intransigent reply, she and others should amplify and escalate their activism on this matter.
Director of Communications
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
1424 L Street NW, Suite 2-1, Washington, DC 20005 March 25, 2013