The world’s largest firearm industry show opened Tuesday in Las Vegas, the last within a Presidency that has influenced more gun sales in the U.S. than ever before.
At the Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade Show, or SHOT for short, gun companies showcase new products that they think address growing trends and the demand for gun dealers and distributors. SHOT brings in some 60,000 attendants and more than 1,600 exhibitors.
Since President Obama took office in 2009, the gun industry has grown to become a $6.6 billion industry, with background checks, which are often used as an indicator for gun sales, amounting to record setting years. The year 2015 alone saw a total of 23.1 million checks, a jump of more than 3 million. Fear of increased federal regulation of firearms, which Obama advocates, has been cited as the main driver of gun sales.
For a second time in three years, the timing of SHOT aligned with the President releasing executive actions to impact industry. Coincidentally, the show kicked off weeks after Obama issued executive actions to improve the federal background check system for gun sales and enforcement of federal regulations.
His plan includes expanding the workforce of the federally funded background check system and the agency tasked with enforcing federal gun laws as well as tasking other federal agencies with conducting and sponsoring research for smart gun technology.
The gun lobby that sponsors SHOT, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, has long advocated improving the background checks system, but it has been resistant to smart gun technology. While the NSSF never explicitly rallied against the development of the technology, it has made no effort to embrace it either.
In November 2013, the NSSF stated that the market should decide on the technology’s future, not Congress — sentiments it continues to share. The group supported its rhetoric with a study, which it sponsored, showing 70 percent of respondents agreeing that the government should have no business mandating the technology and 81 percent saying it would be unlikely that they’d buy such a product.
Earlier in 2013, when the NSSF launched the annual show, the President issued executive actions to address gun violence as a response to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut, where the NSSF is headquartered, just a few week prior.