NSSF hosted two Members of Congress in an ongoing series of virtual town halls with invited members. U.S. Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) talked to NSSF members about topics ranging from overreliance on Chinese manufacturing to the Congressional landscape going into the next election.
The tone of the session was set clearly by six-term U.S. Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), “The Second Amendment is something that is fundamental. To me. To us. It is part of our way of life,” Rep. Reed explained.
As staunch supporters of the Second Amendment from a state headed by an antigun governor, New York’s Reps. Stefanik and Reed both brought a unique perspective to the latest NSSF PAC virtual town hall.
Moderated by NSSF’s Larry Keane, the discussion covered several important topics pertaining to the firearm and ammunition industry, including the ongoing riots and looting taking place across the country and law-abiding Americans’ need to protect themselves, concerns on reliance of Chinese manufacturing and how that effects the firearm supply chain, big tech and financial discrimination against the gun industry and the threats to the Second Amendment coming down from gun control governors like New York’s Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Congressional Action For Firearm Industry
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted businesses. The economy that was chugging along came to a near screeching-halt. Fortunately for the firearm and ammunition industry, nearly all states followed Department of Homeland Security critical infrastructure guidance keeping most gun businesses open and operational as “essential.” This wasn’t the case in New York.
“We have been under attack in New York state by Governor Cuomo…The governor continues to target our Second Amendment businesses which are important small businesses and manufacturers across the state,” the third-term Congresswoman Stefanik explained. New York firearm and ammunition businesses employ more than 5,500. Cuomo shuttered them and couldn’t be bothered to respond the industry’s offers to aid their neighbors. Rep. Stefanik also spoke about her strong opposition to Gov. Cuomo’s NY SAFE Act, which has been ruled against by state and federal courts.
To help small businesses and manufacturers in Congress, both Rep. Stefanik and Rep. Reed have been industry advocates and voted to pass the CARES Act to provide financial assistance for recovering small businesses. Keane spoke about Democratic efforts to include language in future legislation that would discriminate against lawful businesses. Both representatives stated adamant opposition to those efforts.
China Supply Chain Worries
One of the biggest threats looming large over the firearm industry and the larger American economy is an overreliance on China on everything from manufacturing equipment, to pharmaceuticals and U.S. military defense needs. Keane relayed a specific question from an industry member asking what Congress is doing to address this critical issue.
“On the defense piece, this pandemic has shined a megawatt spotlight on our overreliance on China,” said Rep. Stefanik, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “I’m working on important provisions to be included in the NDAA, the National Defense Authorization Act, that provides support for our domestic semiconductor industry and for support for [research and development] for our 5G development,” she added regarding U.S. artificial intelligence and wireless internet needs.
Congressman Reed, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Congressional Manufacturing Caucus, added his gratitude for President Donald Trump’s early focus on U.S. manufacturing and renegotiating trades deals with China.
“When the president raised these issues on China, before the coronavirus situation, I said ‘You’re dead on.’…And I think a silver lining in this coronavirus crisis is the question on China is coming to a head. What we need to have is our own destiny under our control.”
What’s Ahead In 2020
A key discussion Keane led was on what the Representatives see ahead as election season picks up. Across the country, governors and state legislatures are on the ballot, as well as the entire House of Representatives, one third of the U.S. Senate and of course the presidency. President Trump’s Second Amendment stance is well known and former Vice President Joe Biden may lead the most antigun Democratic ticket in history. Rep. Reed touted the importance of using social media, even though there are currently major discrimination and censoring concerns on the platforms, to rally supporters around Republican and pro-Second Amendment causes.
Rep. Stefanik summed up the importance of future firearm-rights policies from the House and Senate on the ability of law-abiding Americans to own firearms, explaining “I think it’s so important in the future as we see infringements on Second Amendment rights that we take these issues to the courts, which is so important to have our Constitutionalist judges and why what Senator Mitch McConnell is doing in the Senate is so important.”
Keane, Rep. Reed and Rep. Stefanik all agreed on the importance of staying informed and active as the November election nears. NSSF launched the #GUNVOTE online resource as a way to help supporters of the Second Amendment understand the consequences elections may have on their rights, as well as what candidates say and have done in the past regarding gun rights to ensure voters don’t risk their rights.
Matt Manda is a manager for Public Affairs at the National Shooting Sports Foundation.