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 these three installments.
In our To Stand And Fight At SHOT features, we’ll continue to bring you extended quotations from a variety of industry leaders, political figures, NRA dignitaries and other interesting people through the end of the show.
We view this election as the existential threat to everything that we stand for—both our Second Amendment rights and our hunting heritage lifestyle. What Hillary Clinton has said publicly so far—to say that it’s troubling would be the understatement of the century. So as we have been supportive of the NRA for decades, we’re just going to increase our support, which we have been doing all along. And that means not just financial support, which is easy, but our NRA Weekend in our stores—where we actively try to get new NRA members—will be accelerated this year. I wish that we could do voting campaigns, but it’s very difficult for a public company to pull that off. So it really involves rallying our whole team—25,000 people who work for us—to get up there and spread the message to get out and vote to protect everything that is so dear to all of us.
I think we’re going to have a lot of success this year, but we’re going to have to be very vigilant. The stakes have just gotten so high this time. So I’m optimistic. I think the things we are doing to help NRA, and that everyone else here at the SHOT Show and all over the country are doing, is going to make a big difference. I also think that the messaging that NRA is using by showing more diverse people enjoying the outdoors is profound and very important for our future. I think we can win this fight, but we all have to come together and just keep stepping up and up and up.
The (NRA) videos are basically just certain issues that I see because I watch anything that has to do with the Second Amendment, anything that has to do with firearms legislation, and I watch it incredibly closely, being on air for three or four hours a day. And the videos are just a condensed response to things that I see that need to be addressed. It’s insane to me that there is so much money and so much astroturf being thrown into disenfranchising people. That’s what it’s in response to.
The video that got the response that kind of surprised me a little bit was when I was calling criminals “thugs,” because they are thugs—mafia people are thugs, gang-baggers are thugs, and I’m not going to apologize for using the word “thug.” And I think that people who try to disenfranchise me are also thugs. I got a lot of pushback on that, and that surprised me. They didn’t actually go after any of the meat and potatoes of what I said, because you can’t refute truth. But I also got so much positive feedback. I’ve been hearing from a lot of moms—a lot of women. There are a lot of moms out there, more than most people would imagine, that don’t agree with disarmament, don’t agree with gun control. You just don’t hear a lot from them because they’re too busy raising their babies, and they’re too busy paying their bills, and going to the grocery store and making the world go around.
We’re seeing a lot of people here at SHOT Show who are gearing up for this election year, they are paying attention, they are motivated, and they’re really concerned. You know, right now the “mainstream” media is kind of portraying gun owners as paranoid for thinking that people want to enact restrictive gun-control laws. At the same time, we’re seeing the same media call for sweeping gun-control laws and gun bans. We’re not paranoid, but we’re also not stupid. We know what these folks want. A lot of us have the institutional knowledge or we remember going back 40 years, the National Council to Ban Handguns, which became the Brady Campaign. And how the messaging of the other side has gone from “gun bans,” to “preventing gun violence,” to now just “gun safety.” But their policies haven’t changed at all—it’s just their messaging.
So I think we’ve got a lot of NRA members, a lot of gun owners this year—they’re motivated every election year, but this year we know this is an election for the ages. Whoever wins the presidency is likely to get to nominate two, three, four Supreme Court justices. We got a 5-4 decision in Heller, a 5-4 decision in McDonald, we’ve got people who are saying that decision needs to be wiped off the books—that the Second Amendment isn’t an individual right—in addition to the concerns about candidates running around saying that they’re going to close the “gun show loophole” or enact gun laws through executive actions. So we’ve got a lot of concerned gun owners. I think the next step is to take the concern and turn it into action. Whatever you’ve done in the past for elections, do twice as much this year.