FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday, January 15
CONTACT: Matt McDermott email@example.com
FAITH AND CITIZEN LEADERS ASK GUN INDUSTRY TRADE GROUP
TO HELP END CAMPAIGN AGAINST “SMART GUNS”
“LET THE MARKET DECIDE”
ON EVE OF SHOT SHOW, CLERGY VISIT NSSF HEADQUARTERS IN NEWTOWN, CT, SEEKING HELP IN ENDING BOYCOTT AND GETTING SAFER GUNS TO MARKET
NEWTOWN, CT -- Leaders of the Do Not Stand Idly By campaign – a national gun safety effort led by interfaith religious leaders – visited the headquarters of the main gun industry trade group this morning, asking the group to help end the campaign of intimidation aimed at keeping personalized guns, or “smart guns,” off the market.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, headquartered in Newtown, hosts the industry’s major trade show – the SHOT Show – next week in Las Vegas.
“The SHOT Show is the gun industry’s Christmas, Rosh Hashanah and Ramadan all rolled into one,” said Reverend Anthony Bennett, a Bridgeport Baptist pastor. “Thousands of gun enthusiasts will be gathered. There’s no better time and place to get the word out that the bullying has got to stop – that the market for ‘smart guns’ should be allowed to work.”
Personalized guns are guns in which built-in user-authentication technology prevents firing by unauthorized shooters. After many years of research and development, much of it subsidized by U.S. taxpayers, these guns are poised to enter the market. One such product, the Armatix iP1 was offered for sale briefly in 2014 by two gun dealers – one in California, one in Maryland – before a backlash from gun-rights activists forced the dealers to withdraw the product. The dealers reportedly received threats of boycotts as well as threats of violence from anonymous callers.
“We have never heard the NSSF utter a word of condemnation or even mild opposition to these efforts to shut down competition in their industry,” said Rabbi James Prosnit, a Reform rabbi in Fairfield, CT. “After the dealer in California was forced to withdraw the Armatix gun, the NSSF statement in the media was: ‘The market reacted.’ Threatening a gun dealer who wants to sell a safer gun isn’t a market reaction. It’s an anti-market reaction.”
Opponents of smart guns cite government mandates as their main concern. The state of New Jersey passed a unique law in 2002 forbidding the sale of non-personalized handguns beginning three years after the first personalized guns become available in the U.S. No other state has followed suit. Last month, however, New Jersey’s Acting Attorney General ruled that the Armatix iP1 is not a personalized gun under the meaning of the state’s mandate law, and that the sale of the iP1 would therefore have no consequences in regards to the law.
“New Jersey’s decision should remove any concern the NSSF has about the sale of this gun,” said Fr. David Blanchfield, a Catholic pastor from Norwalk, CT.
Do Not Stand Idly By (or DNSIB) has asked NSSF to:
· Inform all SHOT Show visitors of the fact that sales of the Armatix iP1 will NOT trigger New Jersey’s mandate law, and encourage an end to efforts to harass dealers who decide to sell the gun. NSSF’s initial response: “We can assure you that our industry is well aware of the recent ruling.”
· Encourage gun dealers across the U.S. to offer the iP1, and similar products, as options for consumers. NSSF has often said it is not opposed to personalized guns, just to government mandates. DNSIB is asking NSSF to act accordingly.
· Meet with DNSIB to discuss alternative legislation to the New Jersey mandate. DNSIB believes that the state’s mandate is counterproductive, and has urged lawmakers to replace it with a set of policies to remove market barriers to personalized gun technology. DNSIB has twice asked NSSF to meet and discuss this apparent common ground. NSSF has declined to meet, citing a number of objections to personalized guns, and complaining about the name of the DNSIB campaign. (NSSF appears to be offended that the campaign has not recognized its many contributions to gun safety.)
Prior to visiting NSSF’s headquarters this morning, Rev. Bennett provided the following statement to media gathered at Edmund Town Hall on Main Street in Newtown:
Personalized gun technologies have the potential to do for guns what air bags and seat belts have done for cars. That is, they can save thousands of lives. They can save the lives of children who pick up their parents’ guns. They can save the lives of police officers whose guns are grabbed by criminals. They can reduce the number of people killed in accidental shootings. They can make a stolen gun into a useless gun.
But first we have to get these technologies to market. Let the market decide which of these technologies work best, and are best suited to different segments of gun buyers.
If the gun manufacturers don’t like Armatix or the other upstart smart-gun companies, let them produce a better, safer gun. Don’t block the competition – join the competition!
NSSF has no problem when gun companies compete with one another to bring greater and greater killing power to market. How about a competition based on greater and greater safety? How about a ‘race to the top’ in the gun industry?
Rev. Bennett is the pastor of Mount Aery Baptist Church in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the co-chairperson of CONECT (Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut), and a leader in the national Do Not Stand Idly By campaign.
How the NSSF Can Help Create a
Free and Open Market for “Smart Guns”
January 15, 2015
1. Help end the consumer boycott
· Notify SHOT Show visitors that the New Jersey Attorney General has ruled that sale of the Armatix iP1 will NOT trigger the state’s “smart gun” mandate
· Encourage gun dealers across America to offer this and similar products as an option for consumers
2. Push policies that remove market barriers
· Support Do Not Stand Idly By approach to replace the New Jersey mandate law with policies to get personalized guns to market
· Help us promote this approach in other states and at the federal level as an alternative to mandates
3. Encourage manufacturers to respond to public-sector gun buyers
· Ask member manufacturers to answer basic questions about personalized gun capabilities included in the Request for Information they received from 69 jurisdictions across the U.S.
· Encourage a “race to the top” on gun safety among manufacturers
DO NOT STAND IDLY BY ASKS NSSF TO DISTRIBUTE THIS MEMO – OR SOMETHING LIKE IT – AT THE 2015 SHOT SHOW
TO: SHOT Show visitors and exhibitors
FROM: Steve Sanetti, President
Lawrence Keane, Sr. VP and General Counsel
RE: LET THE MARKET DECIDE THE VALUE OF PERSONALIZED GUN TECHNOLOGIES
DATE: January 20, 2015
The consistent position of the National Shooting Sports Foundation has been that personalized gun technologies should be offered as a consumer choice in the American gun marketplace, but not mandated by government.
Over the last year, as the first manufacturer has sought to bring a product in this category to market, there have been successful efforts to deter dealers from offering this product to consumers. There has been a concern among some gun enthusiasts that the sale of this gun, the Armatix iP1, would activate the New Jersey law passed in 2002 forbidding the sale of non-personalized handguns in the state three years after the sale of the first personalized gun in the United States. We shared this concern. We did not, however, support or condone the actions of a few who sought to use intimidation and threats to restrain commerce in this area.
Last month the Acting Attorney General of the State of New Jersey made the determination that the iP1 does NOT constitute a “personalized gun” for purposes of the New Jersey “smart gun” mandate law, and that the sale of this gun would NOT activate the three-year “clock” under the state law.
We therefore encourage you to support the right of licensed firearms dealers to offer the iP1 for sale. We believe that this product, and others like it, should be allowed to succeed or fail in the market, based on the merits of the product.