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Real Solutions on Guns Requires Working Together, Not Reflexive Blame

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
A researcher simulates a check done for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System or NICS. AP Photo/Matt Stroud

Here we are again, trying to make sense of the senseless.   Trying to understand what would harden someone’s heart enough to take the lives of innocent human beings.  It is impossible to comprehend.


Even though some scream for “common sense” solutions – without articulating what those solutions actually are, and how they would impact the civil rights of Americans – there are no easy answers. There simply is no common solution that would magically cure society’s ills. Sadly, about the only thing that is predictable in these situations is the rush to judgment and condemnation. It seems these days that the only constant in these circumstances is the immediate rush to lash out and demonize fellow Americans.    

There are “leaders” all throughout the federal and state governments blaming the nearly 100 million law-abiding gun owners for the actions of deranged killers. It’s as if these politicians think that we don’t live and work in these same communities, worship at the same places, send our children and grandchildren to the same schools, or feel the same anguish and pain at such reckless hatred. People wonder why this nation is so polarized – why supposedly grown adults – including people in positions of authority – cannot ever speak to each other in civil tones.

Outrageous name-calling, slandering and bigoted attacks on those who choose to exercise a civil right, and those companies that make that right manifest by the products they manufacture is narrow-minded and beneath the dignity of elected officials. When the firearm industry changed the laws in 16 states to improve and increase the disqualifying data found in background checks for firearms, we helped save lives and prevent these very types of horrific events. This is especially true when we fought for and got huge bipartisan support for legislation that improved background checks at the federal level. The law that bears the name of our program “FixNICS®” is making a difference by ensuring that federal agencies and the military include disqualifying mental health and other data in the background check system.  Many of the politicians that supported and voted for FIX NICS legislation gave no mention of credit to the firearm industry for being able to bring both sides of the aisle together to make this important safety legislation a reality. Likewise, Project Childsafe® has donated over 40 million firearm safety kits to all 50 states and five U.S. territories through well over 15,000 law enforcement and community organizations.  This award-winning program provides real education for gun owners and non-gun owners alike and provides the means to immediately securely store their firearms with a free gun lock. This is what real leadership on an issue looks like and is a true “gun safety” initiative.     


The message is simple: name-calling and referring to those who may not agree on a particular approach to an issue as “the enemy” is no way to lead. Unless grabbing headlines is more important than public safety, our elected officials must look for what unites us as opposed to what divides us. For our part, the firearm industry is looking for Real Solutions® for safer communities, not the same old tired and childish rhetoric that serves to divide this nation. We owe it to our children and our children’s children to work together for unity while respecting that we all share the same hopes and dreams for the future.

Joe Bartozzi is the CEO and President of NSSF, the firearm industry trade association.  

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