Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, who heads up the gun control group bearing her name, is spinning tales and vilifying the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) to advance President Joe Biden’s shared gun grab visions.
Giffords penned an op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer calling for nationwide universal background checks on all firearm transfers. She claims this is what America needs but couldn’t be more wrong. America doesn’t need more background checks. America needs better background checks. That’s exactly what NSSF has been fighting for since 2013.
NSSF’s FixNICS® campaign is focused on improving the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) so the background check system works as it was intended. The firearm industry spearheaded this initiative and changed laws in 16 states and in Congress to ensure all disqualifying adjudicated mental health and criminal records are submitted to the FBI. Since NSSF started this effort, submission of disqualifying records to the FBI increased 270 percent, from about 1.7 million in 2012 to over 6.14 million in 2021.
Pennsylvania, where Giffords is stumping for gun control, is one of the most improved states because of the firearm industry’s efforts, not Giffords’ gun control. In 2012, Pennsylvania submitted just one disqualifying mental health record to the FBI. The firearm industry changed that. Today, 944,974 records are submitted.
Still, Giffords demands Congress act to push for universal background checks without clarifying that the murderer, who took six innocent lives and wounded Giffords, passed the very background check she demands. She overlooks that the background check her attacker passed didn’t account for his noted drug abuse, his violent outbursts or declining state of mental health. Better laws were needed to stop the likes of her attacker, not more laws that would infringe on the rights of those who obey the law.
Gun Control Lies
Giffords’ troubles with the truth don’t end there. She claims that 90 percent of surveyed gun owners support universal background checks. That’s not the entire story. The fact is the most recent attempt for universal background checks in Congress, H.R. 8, was rammed through without even debate and passed on near-party lines. Colion Noir, attorney and Second Amendment advocate, took apart this myth over the vague wording and what the question leaves out. What is never asked is if Americans agree with being put on a national gun registry – a watchlist – simply for exercising Constitutional rights.
Giffords wasn’t done though. She claimed unlicensed gun dealers are selling guns wholesale in America. She’s dancing with words to confuse readers. There are licensed firearm retailers and private sellers. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) regulates firearm retailers. Private parties are able to sell firearms within the laws of their states, some of which require background checks before transferring a firearm. Anyone else selling guns for profit without a license has an entirely different category. That’s criminal. The firearm industry wants criminals locked up.
Giffords blasted Members of Congress for failing to pass any meaningful legislation to improve public safety when it comes to firearms. Again, this is false. Congress passed, and President Donald Trump signed into law, the FIX NICS Act in 2018, named for NSSF’s program, because it demanded what NSSF has pushed for since 2013. It compels federal agencies and incentivizes states to submit all disqualifying mental health records. It passed with broad bipartisan support, with 78 U.S. Senators co-sponsoring the law. That was the firearm industry leading that effort for real change and real safety. Giffords was on the sidelines.
None of Giffords lambasting the firearm industry is a surprise. She’s grown increasingly frustrated with NSSF because the firearm industry has consistently and routinely shined a light on her half-truths and extremist gun control spin. That’s evident even now. NSSF is leading the opposition to her and antigun billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s hand-selected puppet David Chipman, whom President Joe Biden nominated to lead the ATF. NSSF ran television advertising for the very first time to inform senators and their voters of Chipman’s gun control ambitions.
The biggest opponent to David Chipman’s nomination for ATF Director?
It’s not gun owners—it’s the gun industry.
Chipman’s confirmation is literally a matter of life or death—but to the NSSF, it’s about their ability to sell more weapons. https://t.co/RzLlatyBsA
— Giffords (@GiffordsCourage) July 23, 2021
This is the man who couldn’t define “assault weapons” when asked under oath but wants to ban them. If he couldn’t, he has openly advocated in Congressional testimony to twist the National Firearms Act to reclassify the semiautomatic Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR) and require all owners to register them and pay a tax – all 20 million-plus in circulation. This is the same Chipman who denigrated gun buyers as “Tiger King” and zombie apocalypse preppers and lied about helicopters being shot down at the stand-off at Waco, Texas.
Giffords calls NSSF extremist, but it’s clear she’s got an axe to grind. She also knows that Americans are embracing their Second Amendment rights in record numbers. Over 21 million background checks were conducted in 2020 for the sale of a gun. In 2021, that number is topping 11 million so far. She ignores that background checks are being conducted for the sale of firearms at retail and they’re shattering records.
Giffords ignores these truths so America doesn’t uncover the truth of her ultimate goal. Giffords wants to ban MSRs, the most popular-selling centerfire rifle in America, and standard capacity magazines. She supports President Biden’s goal of repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), so activist lawyers can sue the firearm industry into oblivion for the actions of criminals. She supports gun registries so every law-abiding gun owner is on a government watchlist. Giffords backs the expanded use of so-called “red flag” laws that would do more than disarm gun owners, these laws would also deny them Second Amendment rights without Due Process. She wants to enact age-based gun bans, to unconstitutionally deny young adults under 21 the ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
Giffords’ goal isn’t just more background checks. Her goal is to eliminate lawful gun ownership. That’s the most extremist position out there.
Larry Keane is the senior vice-president for government and public affairs, assistant secretary and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.