Remarks by Steve Sanetti, NSSF President and CEO, at the State of the Industry Dinner at SHOT Show on Tuesday, Jan. 14:
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
A year ago, we met in the shadow of a horrifying event that shook America to its core.
A lot of soul-searching needed to be done, and was done.
In the light of an unprecedented gun-control push by this administration, advocacy groups, and the media, it was thought by many that emotion would triumph over facts and logic.
We were called every name in the book.
This industry and its law-abiding, responsible customers responded respectfully and thoughtfully to some of the most outrageous attacks upon us.
The determination to make our case known to all those interested in the truth was overwhelming and extremely gratifying.
A look around this room will show one of the finest assemblages of the American spirit we will ever see.
We rely upon you to win this fight.
If our industry doesn’t have the integrity, the passion, and the determination to stand up for the law-abiding citizens of this great nation, then we are finished.
But we’re not finished! … Not by a long shot.
In fact, our message of thoughtful criticism of well-meant but ineffective proposals to thwart the lawless elements of our society by heaping even more restrictions upon hunters, target shooters, collectors, and those seeking to lawfully defend their families, has resonated with the American public.
Not only has support for these wrongly-directed gun control proposals returned to pre-Newtown levels, but we have seen record numbers of Americans from all walks of life flock to the side of lawful firearms ownership.
WE HAVE WEATHERED THE STORM.
Now, this has been the result of a lot of hard work and dedicated efforts by a lot of good people.
To borrow a now-famous phrase, “We didn’t do it alone.”
But we at the NSSF, our board of governors, and our entire industry, embarked on what many thought was an extremely ambitious, perhaps overly-ambitious, or even an unachievable goal five years ago—
“To increase participation in hunting and the shooting sports by 20 percent by the year 2014.”
Let’s see how we’ve done, working together as never before, in the face of overt hostility by those who see no value in the lawful enjoyment of responsible firearms ownership or a day afield or at the range with family and friends.
We know those joys —and our efforts to include others is having a profound effect upon participation in the shooting sports.
Consider these facts, comparing 2008 to 2013:
–Hunting license sales are up, led by a million new apprentice hunting licenses issued pursuant to the Families Afield and TrailBlazer Programs, themselves up 223 percent.
–Our firearms retailer survey also shows sales trends strongly up
from 2008 to 2011.
And since 2006, hunter expenditures have grown 55 percent.
“Hunting Works for America” is a strong coalition of businesses that directly benefit from these expenditures, giving local economies a healthy boost in revenues in these past five economically troubled years.
That’s over a million American jobs, and $67 million added to the economy each year.
–A nationwide scientific survey by Responsive Management shows that 79 percent of Americans over age 17 approve of hunting, up five percent in just two years to the highest level since 1995; and hunting participation is up nine percent since 2006, reversing a decades-long decline, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Total days of hunting went up 28 percent during this period, and the number of women hunters surged by 25 percent between 2006 and 2011, according to the census bureau.
–National Instant Criminal Background Checks for new firearms sold at retail are up over 53 percent.
Federal excise tax revenues on the sales of new firearms and ammunition, used to conserve all species of wildlife, shot up from $309 million in 2008 to almost $644 million in 2012, over a 100 percent increase, with 2013 on track to do even better.
Sportsmen remain the single largest contributors to conservation in America, with funds coming from every cartridge or firearm or hunting license sold.
–Membership in the NSSF is up 71 percent, to over 10,000, despite the fact that currently only 25 percent of exhibitors are members, and NSSF’s First Shots participants are up 23 percent.
–Skeet shooting and sporting clays are up 26 percent, with an increase of 27 percent in scholastic clay target program participants.
–Defensive pistol shooting course participation is up 57 percent.
–Persons holding concealed carry licenses are up 32 percent nationwide.
–National Wild Turkey Federation programs are up 70 percent.
–Outdoor Adventures and Youth hunts are up an astonishing 100 percent, and 4-H Shooting Sports activities are up 169 percent.
THERE ARE SO MANY POSITIVE THINGS TO SAY ABOUT THE STATE OF THE SHOOTING SPORTS IN AMERICA TODAY!
–“Pull the Trigger,” our extremely popular and informative short how-to-do-it video clips on the NSSF website, has gone from nothing to over one million email addresses each month—I suppose that’s a one million percent increase!
–Our “Analysis of Sport Shooting Participation trends in the U.S. 2008-2012” shows that over 40 million Americans now enjoy target shooting, up 17 percent since 2009.
Twenty percent of all target shooters first started participating during the last five years.
These participants are younger, more female and more urban-based, coinciding with the surge in firearms sales that began in 2008 — 40 CONSECUTIVE month’s sales growth.
While self-defense was a key motivation for 76 percent of these sales, right behind that was the desire to participate in shooting activities with family and friends, cited by 73 percent of first-time gun buyers.
Women target shooters have also increased by 34 percent, according to the National Sporting Goods Association.
These represent the future of our industry and shooting sports in America.
The NSSF range partnership program has helped upgrade over 100 shooting ranges nationwide.
More ranges have received our coveted Five Star rating.
And our “Where to Shoot” app has been a big hit with iPhone and Android users, at one point soaring up to the number four spot of all free sports apps with more than 100,000 downloads.
Our Collegiate Shooting Sports Initiative has also grown since 2008, from nothing to over 100 participating colleges and universities.
These are just some of the statistics we’ve gathered on the successful efforts of so many groups, and so many of you, to keep our recreational shooting sports vital and growing.
Time doesn’t permit me to mention all of you who have given so much so successfully to our cause, but you have the profound thanks of our entire industry and the recreational shooting sports community.
So, ladies and gentlemen, as we gather tonight, the State of Our Industry is renewed.
More persons are entering the recreational shooting sports than ever before.
More hunters, more target shooters, more women, more diverse groups, more licensed gun owners, and, as you all know, more firearms sales.
Perhaps the best news of all is that, despite tremendous increases in these numbers, violent crime with firearms has decreased dramatically during the last five years, to early 1960s levels;
and accidents with firearms have dropped 22 percent, now accounting for less than one percent of all fatal accidents in this country, according to the National Safety Council.
Voluntary industry safety programs such as Project ChildSafe’s 36 million free lock and safety package giveaways to over 15,000 communities have undoubtedly helped.
And we are pledged to continue these efforts.
So be proud of the contributions you are making.
Be proud of our young people, like the Olympic shooters we are honored to have with us tonight.
Be proud of your NSSF staff, which works so hard every day for you to promote, protect, and preserve hunting and the shooting sports.
Be proud of all the volunteer hunter and firearms safety instructors who work so hard to keep a safe sport safe.
Be proud of all those who take the time to take a new person to the range.
Be proud that the excise taxes you all pay every time you buy any firearm or ammunition contribute billions of dollars a year to conserve wildlife, game and non-game species alike.
And finally, be proud that you are keeping our nation strong by keeping a precious American tradition of personal responsibility and safety and security alive for future generations.
For ours is a precious legacy enjoyed by no other society on the face of the earth.
As we begin a new year and set new goals for the next five years, we stand on the shoulders of giants — and we will not let them down.