NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — The tragic deaths of 26 people, including 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School last week has reignited the gun control debate around the nation.
But an ironic twist regarding what happened in Newtown is the fact that a group that wields considerable influence in Connecticut, the National Sports Shooting Foundation, is located just three miles from the site of the massacre.
In a statement posted on its website, the NSSF said “Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of this horrible tragedy in our community.”
“Out of respect for the families, the community and the ongoing police investigation, it would be inappropriate to comment or participate in media requests at this time,” the statement read.
While its lobbying expenditures don’t measure up to the better-known National Rifle Association (NRA), NSSF has “invested more than $20,000 in the past year” lobbying Connecticut state lawmakers on firearms related issues, according to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation.
The NRA has spent about $2.2 million lobbying federal lawmakers compared to the NSSF’s $500,000. Both figures come from the OpenSecrets.org, a website run by the Center For Responsive Politics.
The NSSF, with its world headquarters in Newtown, holds an annual SHOT Show, with what it touts as “the largest and most comprehensive trade show for all professionals involved with the shooting sports, hunting and law enforcement industries.” It has most recently been held in Las Vegas and will be again in 2013.
Lawmakers, including California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman and Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, have called for renewing a federal ban on assault weapons, which was in place from 1994 to 2004.
That ban prohibited the making of certain semi-automatic guns and the manufacturing of ammunition magazines that could carry more than 10 rounds.
On its website, the NSSF addressed the topic of assault weapons, saying that it was the topic of “a tremendous amount of misinformation.”
“Crime control legislation should be based upon solid facts, not emotions, cosmetics or appearance. Semi-automatic firearms are now the most popular type of firearm in America and are used for a wide variety of legitimate sporting purposes, including hunting, small game control, target shooting and personal defense. They should not be banned,” the group said on its website.
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