It’s hardly a news flash that the National Rifle Association (NRA) supports anti-conservation, anti-hunting politicians. Even though I’ve written about it several times, I never realized how bad it was.
A just-released report by the NRA’s nemesis, the American Hunters and Shooters Association (AHSA), deals out all the dreadful details, and it should be a major eye-opener for any hunter who still supports the NRA.
(Incidentally, in case you’re wondering about the “anti-hunting” adjective, I refer to people who consistently support or vote for measures that destroy wildlife habitat or limit hunting access, even if they own guns and say they “support hunting”–even, if fact, if they hunt. Obviously, the loss of wildlife habitat and huntable land hurts hunters as much or more than opposition to hunting from animal rights groups.)
“As the self-proclaimed ‘largest pro-hunting organization in the world,’ the National Rifle Association has long claimed to represent America’s hunters and shooters in the fight to protect one of America’s oldest traditions,” the AHSA said in a press release accompanying the report. “The NRA’s bylaws include an article setting a core goal ‘to promote and defend hunting…as a viable and necessary method of fostering the propagation, growth and conservation…of our renewable wildlife resources.’ But it turns out that its by-laws are just empty rhetoric.”
“Our goal is to pull back the curtain on the ugly truth,” Ray Schoenke, AHSA President, wrote in a letter to NewWest.Net. “The leaders of the National Rifle Association, who have long claimed to represent hunters and shooters, have instead overwhelmingly supported the biggest conservation opponents in Congress.”
And Schoenke doesn’t mind getting a little personal. In a P.S. on the letter, he said, “Unlike Wayne LaPierre (Chief Executive Officer of the NRA), I don’t fly on private jets and my salary is a dollar a year. I can also outshoot LaPierre and I’ll gladly challenge him to a wild hunt. That’s a challenge I look forward to, but I won’t hold my breath that he’ll ever take it.”
(Here’s a P.S. from me. Don’t you think it’s a bit strange–or should I say, telling–that a self-acclaimed “conservation organization” would call its top dog “Chief Executive Officer”? At least they pay him like a CEO, close to a million dollars in total annual compensation, roughly equal to 35,000 annual membership renewals.)
Regrettably, we have no good way to judge a politician’s record on conservation, but the annual survey conducted by the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is the best we have–and the one primarily used by ASHA to come to its conclusions. On the front page of the report, in fact, AHSA states that the NRA gave campaign contributions to 52 of the 53 members of Congress who received a zero rating from LCV for their conservation voting records.
Inside the report, which is titled “Slash and Burn,” the AHSA offered three examples to support the group’s conclusion. The NRA gave much more money to and gave much higher ratings to politicians who:
- In 2001, opposed the Roadless Area Conservation Act, which was defeated even though it would have protected millions of acres of our best hunting land.
- In 2005, tried to sell off hundreds of thousands of acres of public land to “corporate interests at prices far below market value,” as stated in the report. “While conservation groups across America came out against the (sale of public land), the NRA stayed silent.”
- In 2007, opposed the so-called “Katrina Amendment” proposed to prevent future catastrophic flooding and protect wetlands and wildlife habitat threatened by climate change.
The NRA is “out of line with America’s most respected conservation organizations,” says AHSA, mainly because the nation’s biggest gun lobby gave $4,085,277 to support the 193 members of Congress who received poor conservation ratings from the LCV and only $390,897, 10 times less, to the 245 members of Congress who have received high conservation ratings.
The AHSA goes into great detail on what contributions went to individual members of Congress, so if you’re wondering how much NRA money went to your candidate, you can probably find it in the report.
The report also compares NRA campaign donations to senators and representatives endorsed by the Sierra Club with predictable results.
The online presentation of the report also has a survey for hunters who might agree with this statement: “I will not support a gun rights organization that works to elect members of Congress who will allow our natural environment to be ruined by corporate polluters, loggers, strip miners, and other groups that act to destroy America’s great outdoors.” Click here to add your name to the list.
The main point AHSA made, the main reason for issuing the report, was: Don’t let the NRA leadership and its allies in Congress destroy the lands where we hunt.
To this, I say, only hunters who are NRA members need to work hard inside to change the focus of the organization or stop paying membership dues.
Footnote: Ironically, on the same day I read AHSA’s report, I read a Los Angeles Times article citing recent survey findings that more hunters and anglers supported John MaCain than Barack Obama. Go figure. More on this later.
To read the entire report, click here.
Related articles on NewWest.Net:
NRA Stands for Not Really an Ally, 11-4-07
Guns, Sex, Lies, and Democrats, 3-22-07
The Zumbo Affair, Afterthoughts, 3-8-07
NRA Destroys Long-time Friend, 2-26-07
Saving Hunters from the NRA, 6-21-06
To read a chronology of all my articles on the NRA and gun rights, click here.