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SHOT 2014: Washington benefits from target shooting; van Zwoll honored

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Target shooting has big bucks benefits for Washington State, according to a report released today by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which is gathered in Las Vegas for the annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show.

According to the report, the Evergreen State economy was boosted by $304,481,008 in 2011 — the most recent year for which data is available — and target shooting supported 2,848 jobs. It’s part of some $23 billion spent by target shooters nationally, producing some 185,000 jobs that year, the report said.

According to NSSF President Steve Sanetti, combined data from target shooting and hunting shows that more than $110 billion is added to the national economy.

This raises an interesting question: How much does the economy benefit from gun prohibitionist activities, and how many jobs does the gun ban lobby provide? Last night, during his annual State of the Industry report, Sanetti told an audience of some 2,000 people that, since 2006, hunter expenditures have grown by 55 percent.

Sanetti also said gun sales have been growing steadily for 40 months. By no small coincidence, the surge began in 2008, the year Barack Obama was elected president.

There are more women target shooters, in the past year concealed carry permits and licenses are up 32 percent, and participation in defensive pistol courses is up 57 percent.

“Perhaps the best news of all,” Sanetti told his audience, “is that, despite tremendous increases in these numbers, violent crime with firearms has decreased dramatically during the last five years, to early 1960s levels; and accidents with firearms have dropped 22 percent, now accounting for less than one percent of all fatal accidents in this country, according to the National Safety Council.”

All of this has happened while gun prohibitionists have been working to restrict gun ownership and discourage new people from entering the shooting fraternity.

Sanetti acknowledged that the past year has been rough for the firearms community. Noting that “we were called every name in the book,” he said the firearms industry and gun owners have “responded respectfully and thoughtfully to some of the most outrageous attacks upon us.” But contrary to what anti-gunners thought would happen after they ramped up the rhetoric following Sandy Hook, “we have seen record numbers of Americans from all walks of life flock to the side of lawful firearms ownership.”

Proponents of a 17-page gun control measure now going before the Legislature in Olympia might keep all of this in mind as the session unfolds.

MEANWHILE, Washington resident Wayne van Zwoll, an outdoor and firearms writer based in Bridgeport, was honored today with the 2014 Bill McRae Lifetime Achievement Award. The author of nearly 3,000 articles and a prolific outdoor photographer, Van Zwoll’s byline has appeared in Outdoor Life, Field and Stream and other publications. He writes a column on “Rifles and Cartridges” for Bugle magazine, which is published by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF).

He has also authored 16 books on subjects ranging from firearms to optics, and he is a life member of the National Rifle Association and RMEF.

Formerly employed by the Washington Department of Game and Bureau of Land Management, van Zwoll has a master’s degree from Oregon State University and a doctorate from Utah State University.

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