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Political Report

By Chris W. Cox
NRA-ILA Executive Director

On Capitol Hill and Beyond, The NRA Fights for Hunters’ Rights

As we move into the heat of summer, hunting is probably the last thing on anyone’s mind. But protecting our hunting rights has no season. It’s a full-time, year-round job, and your NRA is hard at work on Capitol Hill right now.

In late April, the House of Representatives passed NRA-supported H.R. 4089 by an overwhelming bipartisan majority vote of 274-146. The bill covers four issues.

First, the bill would require hunting and shooting to be recognized as legitimate activities on all Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. It’s common sense that hunting and shooting should be allowed on suitable public lands, but far too often they are banned by bureaucratic default. This change will turn the tables and require land management agencies to identify specific reasons hunting and shooting should not be allowed on any given management unit.

The bill would protect recreational shooting on national monuments controlled by the BLM, in an effort to stem the tide of arbitrary shooting bans that have proliferated on public lands in the West.

The bill would also protect our right to use the hunting ammunition of our choice, by clarifying that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not have the authority to ban lead as a component of ammunition. Anti-hunting groups have tried twice now to force the EPA to ban lead in ammo, and the new language will make it absolutely clear that they are wasting their time.

Finally, the bill would amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act to allow the importation of polar bear trophies by hunters who legally killed polar bears in Canada before the bear was listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. This may seem like an exotic issue; but believe it or not, nearly 50 dead bears are in cold storage in Canada, far from the hunters who naturally want trophies as keepsakes from their completely legal hunts.

Amazingly, although we were instrumental in the House passage of this important bill, the NRA continues to be criticized for not being involved in hunting issues. A recent column by a newly minted hunter in the New York Times complained that “Too often—especially during an election year—hunters and NRA members are lumped together as one and the same. I’m a hunter and a sportswoman. I own guns, but not for self-defense. I support gun control laws.… In other words, the NRA does not represent me.”

In truth, the NRA is without doubt the largest pro-hunting organization in the world. Eighty percent of our members hunt. Second only to personal protection, hunting is the top reason NRA members own firearms. There is, in fact, no single group doing more for hunting than NRA. Through lobbying and litigation, we defend and advance hunters’ rights in every possible venue. The NRA has also taken the lead in fighting for state constitutional amendments guaranteeing the right to hunt. And that’s just the work we do here in the Institute for Legislative Action—NRA General Operations contributes with programs, grants, training and much more.

We are proud to work alongside many other pro-hunting groups in battles to protect hunting, as other groups have strengths that complement our own. But when it comes down to counting votes and passing legislation, the reality is that many of those battles might be lost without our support.

Believe it or not, I’m happy that the writer of the Times article has taken up hunting. The excise taxes she pays on guns and ammunition, as well as her license and permit fees, help fund valuable conservation programs.

She doesn’t seem to realize, however, that many people just don’t believe she has the right to hunt—or that her ability to hunt would disappear if the NRA did not protect both her right to hunt and her right to own a gun. Fortunately for her, for NRA members and for all Americans, the NRA will continue to fight for those rights—with or without her support.


James W. Porter II, PRESIDENT




Edward J. Land Jr., SECRETARY

Wilson H. Phillips Jr., TREASURER



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