I Hunt, but the N.R.A. Isn’t for Me
By LILY RAFF McCAULOU
Published: April 24, 2012
“Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that every N.R.A. member is also a hunter — which is highly unlikely, considering that the most comprehensive national survey of firearm ownership to date found that only 35 percent of gun-owning households say they hunt. Even then, the N.R.A. would represent only
“The N.R.A. has never had much to do with hunting. It was founded in 1871 by two veteran Union officers who were dismayed by the poor marksmanship of their Civil War troops. The organization promoted safe gun handling and target practice. By the 1970s, after rising gun violence prompted a national debate over the interpretation of the Second Amendment, the N.R.A. also made it its business to oppose gun control.
“On its Web site, the N.R.A. calls itself the “largest pro-hunting organization in the world.” Yet during election season, the N.R.A. makes endorsements based largely on candidates’ voting records on gun control — with little if any concern for their views on other issues of interest to hunters. Candidates who voted to allow the ban on assault weapons to expire, for example, are labeled “pro-sportsmen” often despite their weak voting records on environmental issues.
“Even if the N.R.A.’s worst nightmare were to come true nationwide — expanded background checks, mandatory waiting periods, limits to the number of guns purchased by an individual per month — hunting could continue as it has for more than a century, with rifles and shotguns…”
If there are that few hunters who belong to the NRA, the NRA can’t honestly claim to be supporting hunters. Nor are they contributing much, if any, to the purposes of wildlife and land conservation. Those programs get most of their contributions from taxes placed on hunting and fishing licenses, endowments, and membership contributions from various hunting and fishing groups such as Ducks Unlimited.
If the NRA members aren’t hunting, they are ignoring a legitimate heritage aspect of gun ownership. It is certain that some NRA members spend time and money fine-tuning their target shooting skills, punching paper. Others may participate in combat type matches that require the gun owner to see a scenario and then make a decision as to whether or not to shoot. Such situations rarely arise for civilian gun owners. The Trayvon Martin incident may be one instance when the gun owner might have received some benefit from such training. However, given the information that is currently verifiably available, I doubt it. I think that the incident displays an all too common failure to stop playing cowboys and Indians, Cops and robbers, or Soldier.
The NRA, by insisting that there is a valid need for organized militias that are controlled by the states, is feeding a dangerous fantasy held by a lot of men who should know better. The commonly voiced argument is that the 2nd Amendment provides for local and state militias intended to enable those bodies to overturn a tyrannical government. The local 50-person group that shoots up the old quarry once a month in the guise of “training” is not going to oppose the United States Armed Forces and be able to brag about it the next morning. Any militia member who believes otherwise is in need of a rapid and brutal education before he takes the field with his AR platform rifle and homemade explosives.
The NRA needs to be returned to its original purpose. In that guise, it can provide firearms safety training and host shooting matches. If it convinces its members that they have any ghost of a chance of engaging in a successful revolt against the U.S. government, it had better sell them burial urns. Their ashes will be blowing in the wind.