Last week, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) released a video condemning proposed assault weapons bans in Connecticut and at the federal level. The NSSF, the firearm industry’s trade association which is based out of Newtown, Conn., interviewed three Connecticut-Based gun manufacturers about how the bans, if implemented, would affect their businesses.
In the video, Joe Bartozzi, senior vice president and general counsel of O.F. Mossberg and Sons, said modern sporting rifles – a class of firearms that, depending on their features, are often referred to as assault weapons – are misunderstood. But soon afterward, Bartozzi said one of the reasons the modern semi-automatic rifle is so popular, particularly among young people, is its similarity to rifles used in the military:
We’ve got hundreds of thousands of servicemen and women coming back from theater – this type of platform, while not the same gun, certainly shares some of the same features and weight and ease of handling that they’re comfortable with. …I foresee the future being semi-automatic, lightweight, easy to carry, very accurate type of modern sporting rifle platform.
Bartozzi also condemned the practice of categorizing semi-automatic rifles as “assault weapons” rather than “modern sporting rifles.” The industry has long criticized “assault-weapon” as a term that is inherently negative and confusing — though according to one gun buyer’s guide, it was the gun industry that first developed the term to describe types of semi-automatic firearms used by civilians.
The video was published in response to Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy’s statements that there are “clear, commonsense steps that we can take right now to enhance Connecticut’s gun laws,” including strengthening an assault weapon ban that includes any semi-automatic weapon that has at least one military-style characteristic. The proposed assault weapons ban bill, introduced by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, would ban all semi-automatic rifles and pistols that can accept a detachable magazine and have at least one military feature, along with certain semi-automatic shotguns and handguns.
The NSSF has long been against an assault weapons ban, but until recently, supported universal background checks. The group does not have a big a public profile as the NRA but spent over $800,000 lobbying in 2012. The New Republic calls them the second most powerful group in the country fighting gun regulation.