December 19, 2012

Does the NRA defend hunters?

Just read this (A Moderate NRA - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast) and was reminded that my early years with the NRA (yes, I was a Junior Member) were all about hunting, and hunter's safety.  As this post suggests, an NRA devoted to that would be more moderate on a lot of environmental issues even if they were still pretty conservative on access to guns.

But they aren't.  I get the sense that the NRA is really only about defending the right to own guns that are about killing people.

And that is a shame.


steves said...

I am the NRA. Sorry, I had to dig out that old blurb from one of their marketing blitzes. Seriously, though, I have been a member since the early 1990's and have several instructor credentials through them.

As you probably know, the NRA was founded after the Civil War by several retired Union officers. Their stated purpose was to improve marksmanship , as they had noticed that many soldiers were terrible in this regard. Most of their early activities were focused on competition and basic skills.

IIRC, they didn't start to get politically active until the late 1960's, which is around the same time the gun control movement really started. In my state, they had not been active in hunting issues until the 1990's. The state DNR handled things like hunter's safety (they still do).

They do court hunters quite aggressively and have lobbied for "hunting rights" at the state and national level. I think they see it as a way to garner overall support.

I don't claim any insider knowledge, but there are issues related to becoming too "hunter oriented." One is that hunters only represent a small percentage of gun owners and the number of hunters is on the decline. The other is that they risk becoming to broad if they are focusing on other issues unrelated to guns.

Another issue is that the relationship between gun rights activists and hunters is not always a good one. Some hunters view some gun owners in a very negative light. In return, some gun rights people refer to some hunters as "Fudds" (from Elmer Fudd). A fudd is a hunter that is ok with any kind of gun restriction, as long as they can still use whatever gun they like for hunting. In other words, hunting guns are ok...all others are not.

You see where this is going. It creates divisiveness and bad feeling between two groups that could be allies. Look at what happened to Jim Zumbo. If you don't know, he was long time writer and hunter that has written several books, has his own show, and numerous magazine articles. He made some negative comments regarding AR style rifles and was blasted on the net. Eventually, sponsors started dropping him and he made numerous public apologies.

Some might say that he was bullied into doing this. I saw it more that he was behind the times. The type of gun he was critical of was much more widely accepted among hunters.

The reality is that most guns are sold to people that have no interest in hunting and hunting is on the decline. In this alliance, hunters need gun owners more than gun owners need hunters.

Despite this, I see them having a fairly good relationship. Besides legislation, they publish a hunting magazine and sponsor all sorts of hunting related stuff at their yearly meeting. I am hunter and I think they do help promote hunting.

steves said...

As an aside, there are numerous hunting groups, like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, SCI, Pheasants Forever, and dozens of state groups. All of these groups address the concerns stated in that article in regards to natural resources.

I understand that there are many hunters that only own guns for hunting. That is fine, but the NRA is supposed to represent all gun owners, even the ones that have no interest in hunting.

I also find the original author to be somewhat ignorant of the history of hunting arms. He laments the use of 'assault rifles' and doesn't know any hunters that use them. According to sales figures, two of the most widely used hunting rounds in North America are are the .30-30 and the .30-06, both of which were either developed by the military or derived from a cartridge used by the military.

I agree that the NRA should continue to support hunting issues, but I am skeptical of moderate alternatives, as they are usually fronts for gun control groups.

Bob said...

I took an NRA hunter's safety course around 1984ish. They were running them then too. It was really good. The guy taught us about more than just the nuts and bolts of gun saftety. He also tapught us about respect for others, including those who did not wants to see our kill.

I am guessing that was before the NRA lost it marbles and started defending the rights of criminals to by guns.

Tony said...

Eugene Robinson at WaPo called the NRA apologists for murder.

Monk-in-Training said...

I too, was an NRA member, but here in Oklahoma it got to feeling more and more like the Birchers (yes I knew some of them back in the day). Finally it creeped me out so much I quit.

That was probably 20 years ago, and I have never regretted leaving them. It wasn't about hunting, or legitimate sporting use of guns anymore it was all crazy politics, and sadly I get plenty of that here without them.