Debate Magazine

Is the NRA Really Pro-hunter?

Posted on the 30 April 2014 by Doggone
OK, I am politically green.  In other words, if I go for a single issue:  it's the environment.  I have been active in environmentalism since I was a kid.  I love the outdoors, but does the NRA really love the outdoors as much as they claim?
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 as the self-proclaimed "largest pro-hunting organization in the world"  The NRA’s bylaws even 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.
A report by the American Hunters and Shooters Association (AHSA) showed that  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.
An annual survey conducted by the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is the best source we have to judge the NRA's political leanings   It was the primarily source 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. 
Two new reports published from the Center for American Progress (CAP) and the Gun Truth Project and Corporate Accountability International, show that the NRA following contributions from oil and gas companies, the NRA lent its support to legislation that would open up more federal public lands to fossil-fuel extraction, compromising the wilderness that many hunters value.
In 2012, six oil and gas companies contributed a total of between $1.3 million and $5.6 million to the NRA, according to CAP. (The companies are Clayton Williams Energy, J.L. Davis Gas Consulting, Kamps Propane, Barrett Brothers Oil and Gas, Saulsbury Energy Services, and KS Industries.)
The NRA's heftiest energy contributor by far is Clayton Williams Energy. CWE is the NRA's largest corporate donor outside of the firearm industry, and one of its six largest overall donors. The publicly owned Texas energy company has donated no less than $2 million to the NRA in the past four years: at least $1 million in 2010, according to an SEC filing, and at least $1 million in 2012, according to the NRA. In 2010, CEO, president, director, and board chairman Clayton Williams Jr. told a meeting of oil drillers that he'd given more than $3 million to the NRA. In 2013, Williams and his wife Modesta were inducted into the NRA's Golden Ring of Freedom, a small circle of major donors. The couple was celebrated in a 10-page feature story in a 2011 issue of the NRA's Ring of Freedom magazine.
The reality is that the NRA is out of line with America’s dedicated conservation organizations.  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.
Additionally,  the NRA's lobbying on bills detrimental to the environment contradicts the express commitment of of its lobbying arm to "be involved in any issue that directly or indirectly affects firearms ownership and use. These involve such topics as hunting and access to hunting lands [and] wilderness and wildlife conservation." CAP's report also cites several polls showing that preservation of wildlife is important to most sportsmen: A 2012 poll found that two-thirds of sportsmen want to maintain current conservation levels and oppose "allowing private companies to develop public lands when it would limit the public's enjoyment of—or access to—these lands."
Additionally, a 2013 survey of hunters and anglers, nearly 75 percent of respondents opposed selling public lands to help reduce the deficit.  On the other hand, there is a big push to sell public lands from the Libertarian segment of the republican party.
It would seem that the NRA is working against the interest of hunters and sportsmens despite its by-laws to the contrary.   In fact, I would say that the NRA works against the interests of responsible gun owners--if there are still very many left.
Actually, I haven't seen the NRA point to any actual legislation they have supported which would give any credence to their claim of being "pro-conservation".   In fact, I have seen more destruction of the US countryside in the past 40 odd years.  It seems to me that if the NRA were as "pro-environment" as it is "pro-gun" that there wouldn't be a problem with development and the US would not have decaying cities in the same way that guns have become an epidemic health crisis.
Sources:


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