NRA Cutting Bush Embelical In Favor of Hunters?

Powerful gun lobby says it is "discussing" public land access issues

By Don Jordan


The mighty National Rifle Association is said to be thinking about changing its spots and becoming as pro-active for hunters and hunting issues as it has been about gun laws.

The stimulus for this change in attitude within most powerful political lobbying group in America comes as a direct reaction to President Bush's energy and mining policies. Those policies haves closed millions of acres of land to hunting and hunters as international corporations gouge, drill and pollute, especially in the Rocky Mountain states.

In 2000 the NRA boasted it would "open an office" inside the Bush White House. During Bush's tenure, the NRA and the Republican Party have become closely identified. As one NRA spokesman put it: "What's good for the Republicans is good for the NRA." However, now the group's board of directors is being forced off the Bush band wagon by its membership.

According to a number of surveys of hunters, anywhere from 40 to 50 percent of hunters think that habitat loss and loss of hunting land is the number one problem their activity faces today. Only 20 to 25 percent of hunters fear gun control as the major problem hunting faces. Readers of this column will know I have advocated this same position for 20 years. A Field & Stream survey is most widely cited with 41 percent fingering habitat loss as hunting's biggest problem.

Ronald L. Schmeits, second vice president of the NRA and a bank president from Raton, N.M., was widely quoted earlier this month when the NRA-Republican rift was first noted in The Washington Post: "The Bush administration has placed more emphasis on oil and gas than access rights for hunters."

As a result, said Schmeits, the NRA board is "discussing" public lands access issues and considering a shift in emphasis.

In June, 2004, NRA Pres. Kayne Robinson told members of the Outdoor Writers Assn. Of America that Democrats and environmentalists had a secret agenda to ban all guns in America and that the Clinton Administration had "closed millions of acres to hunters" by closing road access to vehicles on some federal properties. Both statements have been proven to be bold-faced lies.

The roadless policy in fact did not close any land to hunting or fishing, but it did close a lot of land to logging, mining and drilling. A Bush eliminated Clinton's order shortly after taking office, but a federal court reinstated Clinton's order last September. Democrats are not talking about gun control any longer and environmental groups don't take positions on the matter. Now, most western state fish and game agencies openly advocate the roadless rule.

Can the leopard that is the NRA change it spots? I doubt it but am willing to listen, because if the NRA takes on habitat loss as an issue, politicians will be forced, finally, to do something constructive.


If you like lists, here is Field & Stream shooting columnist David E. Petzal's list of the top ten American sporting arms ever made:

*Winchester Model 70, pre-1964. Appeared in 1936 and based on the Mauser 98 and Wincester Model 54 with best of both designs.

*Mauser Model 98, designed in 1900 and still made today in new variations. The basis for the German military rifle of WWI And WWII. Known for its silky smooth, reliable bolt action.

*Winchester Model 12 shotgun, 1914 to 1976. Machined and expensive but reliable and beautiful.

*Remington 1100, 1963 to present. Revolutionary recoil damping, low cost, good shooter.

*Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum, 1955. Dirty Harry liked it because it would "blow your head clean off." Made handguns as potent as rifles.

*Winchester Model 94, 1895 to present. The lever action "deer rifle" is short, easy to handle and has low recoil. Probably the most famous American rifle of all time.

*Remington 700, 1941, 7mm is simple and set new accuracy standards.

*Bernelli Autoloader, 1990. Improved autoloading reliability, great shooter.

*Remington XP-100, 1963, .221 calibre. "Rifle masquerading as a pistol."

*Remington Model 870 pump shotgun, 1950. Stamped parts, low cost, but as reliable as Winchester Model 12. Can shoot 4 million rounds before failing.

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©Copyright 2006. Donald Lee Jordan

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