By Larry Keane
President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has a record of no-nonsense support for the rule of law that clearly extends to respect for the Second Amendment and the firearms industry.
Chuck Canterbury is the President of the 350,000-strong Fraternal Order of Police who would bring to the Director’s office 26 years of law enforcement experience as well as 16 years’ experience in his current role. Canterbury retired as a major with South Carolina’s Horry County Police Department and was inducted into the South Carolina Law Enforcement Hall of Fame.
Second Amendment Revered
In 2009, during Senate testimony, he made it clear that he holds the Second Amendment as sacrosanct.
“I want no mistake to be made,” Canterbury testified. “I take a back seat to no one in my reverence for the Second Amendment.”
Canterbury also stood up to billionaire New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg after the anti-gun funder of Everytown and Moms Demand called the Fraternal Order of Police a “fringe group” for opposing the release of firearms “trace” data which is prohibited by the Tiahrt Amendment. Even Bloomberg’s own police commissioner Ray Kelly opposed the release of ATF trace data. ATF says it shouldn’t be released outside of law enforcement either. Bloomberg didn’t care when he misused this information in so-called “sting” operations against firearms retailers – without the knowledge of either ATF or his own police department – interfering with as many as 18 criminal investigations and forcing ATF to pull agents out of the field for their own protection.
Canterbury blasted Bloomberg, saying, “The real fringe group is the reckless politicians who interfere with law enforcement. I can’t just stand by while politicians grandstand over our issues without understanding the real-world implications.”
Tackling NFL Gun Bias
Canterbury’s support has been more than words. He’s thrown the Fraternal Order of Police’s support behind issues to preserve gun rights and industry initiatives to keep firearms beyond the reach of those who shouldn’t possess them. He put NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on notice in 2013 when he issued a strict “no-guns” policy that included off-duty and retired law enforcement officers. Canterbury denounced Goodell for the ill-advised policy that came on the heels of terrorist attacks against sporting events and concert halls.
“Law enforcement officers, which you regularly employ to protect teams and stadiums in which they play, do not suddenly become a security risk if they attend an NFL game on their day off or after they retire,” Canterbury said in the letter.
In fact, the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004 was enacted to allow retired and off-duty police officers should be exempt from carry restrictions so they could be a force to respond to terror threats.
There are more areas of agreement between the Fraternal Order of Police and NSSF on key issues.
Smart Guns A Non-Starter
Mandating the use of authorized-user technology, or so-called “smart guns” is, well, not smart. The Fraternal Order of Police agrees with NSSF the technology is unproven and unreliable.
“Police officers in general, federal officers in particular, shouldn’t be asked to be the guinea pigs in evaluating a firearm that nobody’s even seen yet,” said James Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police. “We have some very, very serious questions.”
The Obama administration concluded the technology wasn’t ready or reliable and abandoned its effort to mandate its adoption by law enforcement with little fanfare.
Under Canterbury’s leadership, the Fraternal Order of Police also stood against the Obama administration’s attempt to ban “green-tip” ammunition, or 5.56 mm ammunition commonly used in modern sporting rifles. The administration’s reason was to protect law enforcement. The Fraternal Order of Police, though, thought the dust-up wasn’t necessary.
“Any ammunition is of concern to police in the wrong hands, but this specific round has historically not posed a law enforcement problem,” FOP said at the time.
Supporting NSSF’s Real Solutions
There’s still more. The Fraternal Order of Police sees NSSF’s efforts to provide real solutions for safer communities as efforts worth supporting. Canterbury praised the firearms industry’s Don’t Lie for the Other GuyTM program to prevent straw purchases of firearms.
“I believe campaigns like this are important to deter illegal purchases and to help retailers prevent those purchases from happening in the first place,” he said. “This is certainly a worthwhile endeavor, and I hope that the Justice Department will continue to support the ATF and the Don’t Lie for the Other Guy campaign.”
The Fraternal Order of Police also supports NSSF’s Project Childsafe® initiative to partner with more than 15,000 law enforcement agencies to provide more than 38 million firearms safety kits including gun locks free to communities. In 2015, they supported NSSF’s $2.4 million cooperative grant with the Department of Justice to continue the program.
Most recently, Canterbury writing for the Fraternal Order of Police sent a support letter to U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) for his expected re-introduction of the Federal Firearms Licensee Protection Act, legislation supported by NSSF. The legislation would strengthen criminal penalties for firearms thefts from FFLs.
It’s a long list. Then again, Chuck Canterbury has respected and supported the same ideas as NSSF for a long time.
Larry Keane is Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association.