It looks like the flap over the NSSF report that has offended a lot of handgunners might be a little premature, but it underscores a large problem. The offending parts of the report include this little gem:
Public acceptance of rifles and shotguns is greater than acceptance of handguns, the latter having some negative connotations for some individuals in American society.
Action Item 163. Efforts to promote acceptance of shooting sports should focus on rifles and shotguns.
I can understand taking a “political” approach when promoting the shooting sports. The report also suggests “Avoid communications imagery that shows people shooting at human silhouettes.” I can understand where it might be better to avoid using images of shooting at human silhouette targets in “communications,” i.e. advertising, press releases, etc. This speaks more to public image, and simply avoiding using human silhouettes as targets, which some people could find disturbing. I do not think we should avoid using these targets for training, or even in “communications imagery,” just that it might not be the ideal image to advertise First Shots.
What I cannot understand or support is throwing a class of firearms or shooters under the bus, especially when they are some of the most popular guns available, either handguns, so called “assault weapons,” or what ever the antis decide is evil next. The antis are more than willing to take a little bit at a time, and we cannot be willing to give them an inch. We only need to look at what has happened in countries like England, where they came for the handguns, and the long gun shooters didn’t work to stop it, once the handguns where gone, then they came after semi-autos, to the point where now almost nothing is legal. To say that we should leave handgunners or the tactical rifle shooters behind is a huge mistake.
Furthermore, as Bitter points out, handguns are a huge portion of the shooting sports. Over 65% of NRA certified instructors are certified in handgun, and handgun sales have been pretty steady around a million units per year. As to finding ranges, handgun ranges are much easier to find, and have better year round availability (at least where I am.) For a rifle range, my options are a couple of private clubs, or a range most of an hour away. There are a couple of shotgun clubs close by, but unless you are a nut like me that will shoot trap when it’s 20 degrees out, they are pretty useless 3-5 months of the year in this part of the country, and that is hardly a good way to introduce someone to shooting, shivering does little for trigger control. For handgun, there are several shops within 20 minutes or so with indoor ranges attached, which are not only convenient in terms of proximity, but are available all year without worrying about weather.
Fortunately, it appears that this “action item” was something formulated by an outside group, and was to be discussed in that context, in talking to several bloggers, the NSSF has distanced themselves from the point taking action on it.
In short, the NSSF and the industry would be foolish to even try to draw attention away from handguns. We are winning on the gun control issue, and now is not time to backtrack at all. Giving up ground is the surest way to lose.