President Obama, I hope to see you tomorrow evening in Las Vegas. If you are serious about engaging in a dialog about guns in America, there is no more central place than the State of the Industry dinner at the SHOT Show.
You probably know that SHOT stands for Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show. It is the beating heart of the intersection of hunting and shooting in America. It is annual meeting place of 61,000 serious gun owners, gun and ammunition makers, and the media who cover hunting and shooting.
The SHOT Show is the place you need to be if you are serious about engaging shooters and starting a real dialog about how to solve one of the most critical domestic-policy issues of your administration: how to reconcile our 2nd Amendment rights to own firearms with the terrorism and horror when criminals turn them on our neighbors.
Please don’t send Joe Biden to Vegas. Your vice-president is fine for facilitating discussions, but we’re beyond photo-ops and feel-good exercises. We need you, and your bully pulpit, to elevate this discussion to one between adults, and craft solutions that extend beyond your administration.
Please don’t think of the SHOT Show as enemy territory. There are many that would portray us as diametrically opposed, but I think there is more common ground than those who benefit from animosity would have you believe.
I think you’ll find among SHOT Show attendees plenty of interest in dialog. In fact, here are some talking points you might bring to Vegas:
How do we respect the civil liberties of those citizens who have exhibited mental illness but whose violent tendencies aren’t detected by the current instant firearms check system?
How do we reach an understanding that additional laws restricting firearms won’t affect the illegal use of firearms? The central understanding of this point is that no criminals who have caused such havoc and heartache across the nation have cared a whit about laws and regulations. Why should we believe additional laws will make a difference?
Addressing what’s been called the “gun-show loophole.” The case that instant-check compliance should apply no matter where a gun is purchased, whether at a gun show or at a sporting-goods counter, has some traction with law-abiding gun owners. But part of the discussion has to be about making the instant-check system catch the people who would do harm with guns.
Some evidence that you appreciate the culture, heritage, and contributions of gun-owners to the fabric of America. This is a critical point. The nation’s shooters and hunters are looking for some understanding that you respect us, and the reasons why we feel so passionately about our firearms. You will certainly get a feeling for that at SHOT, which is attended by the most influential and articulate gun owners in America. That recognition alone will almost certainly win you a favorable reception among gun owners, and may create a climate of dialog and solution.
The State of the Industry dinner starts at 6:30. I hope to see you there.