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Gun Industry Group Serves As A Tool For Crafting Senate Gun Bill

To many people, the only name that springs to mind when it comes to gun rights and influence in Congress is the National Rifle Association (NRA). A different group has ratcheted up federal lobbying and is working closely with lawmakers to shape current Senate negotiations under way on legislation to curb gun violence: the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). Like the NRA, the group is a powerful force in representing gun rights. I is backed by gun manufacturers and retailers, while the NRA’s potency comes from its membership of gun owners. NSSF it takes a less confrontational approach to lawmakers who favor gun control, a stance that has given it clout, the Wall Street Journal reports. The NSSF hasn’t taken a public position on the bipartisan framework announced by Senate negotiators this month because there is no legislative text yet. The trade group has been involved in setting the deal’s general parameters and has been helping with technical details, members of Congress and aides said. “We try very hard to be able to have conversations with both sides of the aisle,” said Larry Keane, the NSSF’s lead lobbyist.

While the NRA and NSSF often seek similar policy goals, the NSSF has been more open to some gun legislation that is seen as benefiting its members, such as strengthening penalties for gun-store robberies and cracking down on "ghost guns" lacking serial numbers. Capitalizing on both its own legislative relationships and the NRA’s struggles, the NSSF has stepped up its Washington presence, having invested about $5 million more than the NRA in federal lobbying since 2019. In current talks, the NSSF argued against raising the age limit to purchase firearms and a national red-flag law. No such provisions made it into the framework. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC}, a lead Republican negotiator, said NSSF has been helpful on the technical side as lawmakers begin to draft legislative language. The NSSF has backed other gun proposals over the years, while the NRA has consistently sought to block almost all federal legislation.


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