“The Stakes Have Never Been Higher.”
Nearly three years ago, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) survived an attack by a deranged criminal misusing a firearm. That horrific event shocked the nation. For the Louisiana Congressman, though, it steeled his resolve.
This next election is crucial for the firearm industry and Second Amendment rights. “The stakes have never been higher,” Congressman Scalise warned.
The seven-term Republican U.S. Representative from Louisiana was previously recognized as the 2018 NSSF Legislator of the Year and joined NSSF’s Larry Keane for an NSSF Political Action Committee virtual town hall. The two spoke about Whip Scalise’s strongly-held belief in the right to keep and bear arms and his legislative successes both in the Louisiana state legislature and Congress. Whip Scalise even told the story of his 11-year old son shooting his first alligator and bagging his first buck. It was a proud moment for Scalise to see his son harvest a 10-pointer, and it nearly brought him to tears sharing the proud memory.
As a father, Scalise thanked industry participants for those experiences, praising “All the things y’all fight for and promote it’s so we can pass it on to the next generation.”
Long Track Record
Keane asked Whip Scalise about his background as a legislator fighting for the Second Amendment. His successes go back to his days in the Louisiana state legislature. The first bill he worked on in 1999 was in response to the City of New Orleans filing the first municipal lawsuit against the firearm industry. The city wanted to hold gun manufacturers liable for the criminal actions of individuals. Then a state legislator, Whip Scalise wasn’t standing for it.
“It would’ve been crazy. It’d be like holding a car maker responsible if someone used a car to commit a crime,” he said.
Charlton Heston even testified in favor of the bill in Baton Rouge. The bill was passed, but was challenged in the courts before reaching the U.S. Supreme Court, ultimately being upheld. That legislation was the foundation for the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, signed into law by President George W. Bush. That law is what protects the industry from frivolous lawsuits.
“My mom never cared about any bill I brought forward until she heard Charlton Heston was going to come and sit next to me,” Whip Scalise joked.
His Second Amendment bona fides have been unquestionable since, including in Congress with his introduction of the Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act and his support of two NSSF-priority bills. The first is the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act which would treat a state-issued concealed carry permit in the same manner as a driver license and eliminate the patchwork of legal pitfalls for law-abiding gun owners. The other is and the Hearing Protection Act, which would simplify the process to purchase suppressors, making buying the firearm accessory available with the same background check as a firearm, instead the cumbersome and lengthy process in place now.
Backdoor Industry Attacks
Whip Scalise spoke of the importance of legislative action to protect gun rights. Vigilance is key. He warned that while antigun factions aren’t winning at the polls or in legislatures, they are continuing their attacks on Americans’ Second Amendment rights through the courts.
“It’s one more attempt for them to go after the Second Amendment in a backdoor way because they couldn’t get it straight up through votes, so they would try to go through the courts and bankrupt the industry,” he explained. “It’s why we’ve always got to keep our guard up.”
Keane and Whip Scalise delved into the pressure brought by financial institutions against lawful businesses. Banks and payment processors are imposing corporate policies to discriminate against constitutionally protected industries. They’re imposing their own policies through unaccountable boardroom executives instead of through elected officials who must explain their decisions to voters. Worse off, they’re doing this while enjoying taxpayer-funded protections. They’re literally using taxpayer funds to institute a corporate-run discrimination scheme to choke off firearm businesses.
Whip Scalise emphasized that this is a leading legislative priority, along with funding increases for the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check Systems (NICS) to keep pace with the record background checks from an historic surge in firearm purchases. He explained that priority is shared House Republicans the Republican-controlled Senate. With Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in control, he’s keeping a watchful and cautious eye on the legislative calendar.
Whip Scalise told participants that the media couldn’t believe after he had survived the attack on his life, that he didn’t support more gun control. He voiced a strong message back, stating why the Second Amendment now is more important to him than ever.
“My political views don’t change because they’re not something that you stick your finger in the air,” he explained, thanking and crediting Capitol Hill Police for their unwavering commitment under fire that fateful day. “These are rooted in my core beliefs in what the Constitution means. The bottom line is I wouldn’t be here today without people with guns to counter the shooter.”
Whip Scalise’s determination runs deep on the issue. It’s why he’s working hard to ensure the House of Representatives flips in November back to control by supporters of lawful firearm ownership and use. From his perspective, the threat to fundamental American rights is real. Scalise warned, “Boy the stakes have never been higher.”
NSSF is invested in ensuring voters know what’s at stake in November. NSSF launched the #GUNVOTE online resource to ensure voters, especially new first-time gun buyers, are informed and recognize the consequences elections will have on their gun rights in the future.
Matt Manda is the manager of Public Affairs at the National Shooting Sports Foundation.