While the SHOT Show is a hotbed of activity for those in the firearm business, it’s also a place where important movers and shakers—both political and not-so-political—can be found. We searched the show floor this morning to find our first four installments.
In our “To Stand And Fight At SHOT” features, we’ll bring you extended quotations from a variety of industry leaders, political figures and NRA dignitaries today through the end of the show.
To me, one of the absolutely necessary things we need to do is to bring new people into the shooting sports, and to do that we’ve got to provide an opportunity for folks who have never pulled a trigger before to get involved or to hunt. We think of mentoring primarily as bringing young people into the game, which is critically important, obviously, because that’s our future. But we also need to bring in everybody—older people as well.
For example, since the first of November, I’ve helped nine people—eight women and one man—buy their first firearm and get themselves trained. I didn’t train them—I’m not qualified to do that—but I got them involved with people who are professionals. If they’re buying a firearm, great. I don’t tell them what to do, but I help them find training to use it. These are all people in their 60s and 70s and this is their first time buying a firearm, and it’s exciting to help them get into our game. And it’s critically important that all of these people join the NRA.
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Kyle Weaver, NRA Executive Director for General Operations
We have a new program called “Make A First” that we’re doing a soft launch for to leaders of industry here at the SHOT Show. The whole concept is that it’s no secret out there that the gun issue is a major battle in the upcoming election. But there’s a broader issue here, and that’s our lifestyle as outdoorsmen. It’s not that they just don’t like that we own guns. They don’t like the lifestyle we lead as gun owners. They don’t like that we hunt. They don’t like that we fish. They don’t like that we camp. They don’t like that we have access to public land without their permission.
We see this as a God-given right. We see it as a legacy that we will pass down to our kids. And it’s a battle that all outdoorsmen have to get active on. As the NRA, we looked at ourselves and said, “What more can we do?” And what we found out is that we need to lead the charge to bring everyone together as a team to get people active. And what we are calling it is “Make A First.” It’s about that first shot. It’s about that first opportunity to get into the outdoors. Taking that first camping trip, catching that first fish. Putting that worm on the hook that first time is a big deal. And that’s where you make the introduction.
The big issue we have today is when you look at how people are introduced to the outdoors it’s completely different now than in our generation or past generations. It isn’t the classic father or grandfather handing it down. Most people will never have the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors if we don’t create that opportunity. This is not just a program or an initiative, it’s a movement. And we see our role as bringing all of industry together to get behind us to help us market this movement.
President Obama claimed he was going to require background checks where the law didn’t require background checks, such as at gun shows and on the Internet. But the people who are required to have a license are still required to have a license, and those who are not required by law to have a license are not. Background checks will continue to be performed by people who have licenses, and will not be required by people who don’t. It is an attempt by him to demonstrate to his core that he’s doing something about gun violence, but he’s not accomplishing anything.
ATF is smarter than Obama, and they know what the law says: You have to be dealing as a regular course of livelihood and for profit, and it excludes the transfer, buying or selling of a personal collection. The Internet brochure they put out is actually correct. He’d like to ban guns, but his hands are tied. This is all smoke and mirrors, and his followers don’t realize what’s happening.
A lot of women are intimidated about guns and going to the range. So what I try to do is take them to the range, get them comfortable with firearms—starting with pistol, then shotgun, then rifle. The best way that we can overcome a lot of the negative thoughts about firearms is to get women on the range. Right after the San Bernardino incident happened, I probably had seven women text me or email me and ask, “When are you doing your next class?” It’s the same with our boys—that’s the big reason I work with Boy Scouts. Because the more we get our kids to be familiar with firearms and train them to be safe, and understand what they do when they encounter a gun in the wrong hands, the more lives we save.
Right now I try to raise as much money as I can for NRA because I desperately believe in the programs and our fight for the Second Amendment. That’s one reason I’m running for the NRA Board of Directors. Being on the Board would allow me to raise even more money, which would allow us to train more kids through safety programs, protect some of our hunting programs, support first responders, promote shooting sports and protect our Second Amendment.