from today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, could prove interesting


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alan
July 11, 2004, 11:03 PM
NRA spat with hunters could spill into politics
Sunday, July 11, 2004

By Blaine Harden, The Washington Post



SEATTLE -- In a spat that could have implications for the presidential campaign, the National Rifle Association has angered a group of opinion makers among America's 50 million hunters and anglers.

The president of the National Rifle Association warned a convention of outdoor writers last month that it should not be seduced by environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club, which promise to protect hunting habitat but actually are scheming to ban guns.

"It's pretty hard to hunt without guns," Kayne Robinson, president of the NRA, told the Outdoor Writers Association of America at its annual meeting in Spokane, Wash.

At the convention, the Sierra Club had offered to join forces with hunting groups to protect wildlife habitat, a proposal that generated considerable support. But Robinson said the NRA, which has 4 million members, half of whom are hunters, would never cooperate with the Sierra Club, which he suggested was trying to "hoodwink hunters into voting for gun ban candidates."

Robinson's remarks have prompted an unprecedented rebuke from the Outdoor Writers, a 77-year-old group of newspaper, magazine, radio and TV commentators who for decades have had a somewhat fawning relationship with the NRA. Many are longtime NRA members and contributors to its publications.

The writers' board of directors voted 11 to 4 to send Robinson a letter "expressing our disappointment in your harsh criticism of fellow OWAA supporting member Sierra Club." The June 30 letter described his comments as "inappropriate."

Since the late June convention, several outdoor columnists, writing in their own newspapers, have lambasted Robinson's speech. They also have said his accusation that environmental groups have a stealth plan to ban hunting guns was alarmist and false.

"The National Rifle Association locked, loaded and fired its best shot at the Sierra Club ... only to have the blast explode in its face," wrote Tom Stienstra in the San Francisco Chronicle.

"The NRA continues to blindly advocate 'Vote your gun.' So narrow. So sad," wrote Rich Landers, outdoors editor of the Spokesman-Review in Spokane. Landers observed that Robinson's "bull-headed polarizing rhetoric" occasioned "a good deal of eye-rolling" at the convention.

Also fueling the anger in Spokane -- and injecting presidential politics into the argument -- was Robinson's assertion that hunters are being denied access to 26 million acres because of a Clinton-era policy that limits road construction on federal land.

The Bush administration, which has the backing of the NRA in the Nov. 2 election, has moved to limit the roadless rule in national forests. Sen. John F. Kerry, President Bush's Democratic challenger, has said he would reinstate all roadless areas.

The Bush and Kerry campaigns are courting hunters and anglers, whose numbers are large in swing states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania and who tend to turn out to vote.

In the 2000 election, the "hook and bullet" vote went mostly to George W. Bush and gun rights were a decisive factor, according to several major hunting and conservation groups. But according to these same organizations, resource extraction efforts by the Bush administration on prime hunting and fishing habitat have upset many outdoorsmen.

In Spokane, many of the outdoor writers said they disputed Robinson's statement that roadless areas are closed to hunters. In fact, roadless areas are open to hunting and fishing, if sportsmen are willing to get out of their cars and ply these areas on foot or horseback.

The best hunting and fishing in Idaho and Oregon -- as measured by the size and number of big game taken and fish caught -- occur in roadless areas, according to two new studies by Trout Unlimited, a conservation group. The studies were presented at the convention.

"I was embarrassed and appalled by what Robinson had to say," said Pat Wray, a member of the Outdoor Writers board of directors. Wray is author of "The Chukar Hunter's Companion" and is a 20-year member of the NRA.

Wray, who drafted the letter of complaint to Robinson, said the NRA struggles with a "basic conundrum" that limits its willingness to protect wildlife habitat.

"Its primary purpose in life is protecting Americans' right to keep and bear arms, but they are trying to play that game in a hunter's realm," Wray said. "The NRA will make a push on behalf of politicians who are strong supporters of gun rights, but very often these are the same people who are the least supportive of efforts to protect hunting habitat from roads, logging and mining."

Wray said there are "a great many hunters out there like me. I am a registered Republican. I am a longtime member of the NRA. But George Bush's administration scares me to death, when it comes to the environment."

The NRA wants to make access by car to hunting areas a priority, said Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the NRA. He added that Robinson's major complaint about roadless areas is that they limit "mainstream hunter access to valuable hunting land.

"You are talking about people having to hire hunting guides, which is a financial burden, or you are talking about trekking," Arulanandam said. "It would take exceptionally long to hunt, and what about disabled hunters?"

The NRA's insistence on drive-close hunting has, itself, generated considerable heat among outdoor writers. An editorial last month in the Lewiston (Idaho) Tribune said that "most of the legions of people insisting on a driveway right" to hunt "simply have more invested in their beer bellies than their boots."

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Monkeyleg
July 11, 2004, 11:12 PM
Divide and conquer. The Left is very good at splitting us up. And, it would appear that many Useful Idiots are swallowing the bait.

Standing Wolf
July 11, 2004, 11:42 PM
...it would appear that many Useful Idiots are swallowing the bait.

Even a small handful of useful idiots are enough for the national leftist extremist so-called "news" media to turn into a major trend. The presstitutes of the Washington Post are desperately trying to drum up support for that Kerry creature.

Bartholomew Roberts
July 12, 2004, 10:27 AM
Last time the Union vote split over the gun issue and it cost Gore the election. All that you are seeing here is that the Democrats are trying to do a better job of handling that issue by attacking Bush on some fronts and trying to portray Kerry as better than he is on others.

They know they won't win over all gun owners; but they want to throw up enough of a smokescreen that they don't lose large chunks of their base.

Old Fuff
July 12, 2004, 04:53 PM
As a general rule - and of course there are exceptions - the environmental tree huggers are not interested in guns or hunting. They want to protect the wilderness by kicking humans out of it. Here in the West they were especially successful during the Clinton years at getting huge areas set aside for animal habitat, and not much more. The leadership as well as the membership of these outfits is mostly comprised of folks that are left-wing, urbanites. Any support we get from them will be questionable.

Nathaniel Firethorn
July 12, 2004, 06:21 PM
On this one, I'd like Kayne Robinson to show me the evidence that the Sierra Club is plotting to clearcut the Constitution. It frankly sounds like he's starting to wear an Alcoa fedora...

- pdmoderator

flatrock
July 12, 2004, 07:54 PM
It sounds like a liberal group of "outdoors writers" is doing what they usually do, bashing the NRA. When the source they use for more support is the San Fransisco Cronicle, you can pretty much tell where the author is comming from.

I'm sure the comment upset some NRA members who are also Sierra Club members. The Sierra Club does do some good things that I support. However, I will never join the Sierra Club, because they support using junk science to forward their agenda.

I keep hearing liberals scream about how bad Bush is for the environment, but all I've seen is Bush requiring that the reasons for what we do with the environment make sense and be based in scientific fact. He opposes actions by many extreme environmental groups because those groups seek unreasonable goals and base their reasoning on concocted studies rather than scientific proof.

This person is obviously a Kerry supporter. Any hunter that thinks Kerry supports them is listening to what Kerry says, but ignoring what he's done. Kerry has voted to curb gun owners rights consistently. He's no friend of hunters.

The NRA is telling this one like it is. Sometimes that upsets people. That usually because those people aren't comfortable with the situation they've found themselves in. I believe there are a lot of people who support the Sierra club because they want to protect the environment, but they don't look very closely at what the organization does at a political level. They don't look very careful at the crap that the Sierra Club sometimes uses to support their political actions.

The Sierra Club has fallen into the same trap that many other liberal lobbying bodies have fallen into. They've used junk science and basically lies to support their actions so many times that their fight has turned into maintaining power and influence is the first priority, and supporting the environment is secondary.

hillbilly
July 12, 2004, 08:13 PM
Since when do duck-hunting over-under shotgun elitists care about RKBA for us peasants, anyway?

Nothing new here at all.

There have always been 2A traitors in the ranks of "sportsmen."

Heck, even Hollywood celebrities shoot sporting clays.

hillbilly

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