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Home / Articles / Opinion / Editorial /  Screw the NRA

Screw the NRA

Hunters need their own voice

By Ari LeVaux
Posted // January 2,2013 -

The National Rifle Association claims to be the largest pro-hunting organization in the world. But as a hunter, I say the NRA couldn’t represent me less. The NRA isn’t for hunters any more than AAA is for bicyclists. Sure, some hunters are NRA members, but first and foremost, the NRA serves gun fetishists and the firearms industry. In 2011, nearly 14 million Americans hunted. NRA members number about 4 million—fewer than half of whom hunt.

Hunters actually use their guns as the killing tools they are. I don’t shoot for the joy of killing, or for the thrill of a loud explosion an inch from my head. The gun is not a toy that we have a constitutional right to play with, but a tool to which we’re guaranteed access.

While most hunters don’t have the firearms experience or training of law enforcement or military personnel, a hunter’s experience nonetheless imparts a significant level of competence with a gun. Hunters feel the jitters while trying to shoot, and we shoot in all kinds of uncomfortable and less-than-ideal circumstances. We’ve seen what bullets can do to a body. And if, for some reason, a nongovernment militia had to be organized, it would doubtless be composed largely of hunters, along with military veterans and, of course, the gun freaks.

The NRA wants desperately to welcome more hunters into its ranks, but fewer than one in five hunters is a member, and most hunters who haven’t joined by now probably won’t. Like me, many hunters consider the NRA a bunch of paranoid loonies, with an increasing volume of innocent blood on its hands.

The NRA is a bullying organization, quick to use language like “traitor.” But the very fact that it’s kind of scary to say “Screw the NRA” is one of the biggest reasons to say it. NRA members have a lot of guns, and the organization appears to keep track of who does and says what. When I take my gun to the store to get it worked on, the information slip I fill out includes a line for my NRA number—despite the fact that only about 4 percent of gun owners are NRA members. Will the gunsmith treat my gun with less love if I leave that line blank? Does the NRA keep track of who services which gun when—even as it decries federal attempts to keep track of guns?

Among Americans with experience using guns as weapons, rather than as toys, compare 14 million hunters with 3 million active and reserve military, 1 million police officers and 7 million military veterans with combat experience. Of course, there is some crossover among these groups. And hunters have the least amount of formal firearms training. But in terms of votes, any way you slice it, there is no larger population of Americans with experience shooting at things than hunters. The NRA doesn’t speak for us; we need to speak for ourselves.

How is it that the NRA has so much power and the seeming ability to control politicians like marionettes? Money, of course—more than can be raised from membership dues and bake sales. Between 2005 and 2010, the NRA took in about $40 million from the nation’s gun manufacturers, according to the Violence Policy Center.

Fear-mongering is one of the best ways to create demand for guns, and nearly every piece of NRA propaganda does that. We need guns to protect us from the government, home intruders and strangers on the street. We all need to be armed! On the Monday following the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings, a West Kearns Elementary School sixth-grader in Utah took a pistol to school for “protection.”

The unprecedented national trauma and soul-searching that Sandy Hook has inspired could spell tough times ahead for the gun industry. On the Tuesday after the shooting, Cerberus Capital Management announced it was selling its 95 percent stake in The Freedom Group, a privately held conglomerate whose companies include some of the world’s largest weapons manufacturers, including Remington, Barnes bullets and Bushmaster, which makes the AR-15 assault rifle used by Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter Adam Lanza.

Could an armed citizen have prevented the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings? Such a thing has not happened in at least 30 years, according to a recent study by Mother Jones, which looked at 62 mass shootings in that time: “In not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun … in recent rampages in which armed civilians attempted to intervene, they not only failed to stop the shooter but also were gravely wounded or killed.”

Meanwhile, a growing number of studies support the observation that gun owners and their families are more likely to be shot—by their own guns or by someone who sees their gun—than to successfully repel attackers. In pretending otherwise, the NRA is selling the myth of security while it sells public safety down the river.

The NRA needs hunters a lot more than hunters need the NRA. And the nation needs the opinions of hunters more than it needs the opinion of the NRA. Hunters are intermediaries between government armed forces and private citizens. We are armed citizens who know what guns can do, and if sensible gun-control policy is ever to be pursued, hunters need to be part of the conversation.

And we can start by saying, “Screw the NRA.”

Ari LeVaux writes Flash in the Pan, a syndicated weekly food column, and is a restaurant critic for the Weekly Alibi in Albuquerque, N.M.

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Posted // January 17,2013 at 08:22

Hunters don't need Assault Rifles to hunt, a decent hunter does not "blast away" at a living breathing target - they take careful aim and try to put the animal down in a single well placed shot, so they do not need a 10 round clip (30 rounds?? really???) . A real hunter has no problem with having a background check run on them at a gun show . . .

Hunters don't need an NRA that takes these hysterical nonsensical positions. . . but apparently "gun nuts" do. . .


Posted // January 15,2013 at 21:15

Excellent column! By opposing any and all regulation of firearms, no matter how reasonable, the NRA represents gun manufacturers and crazies, not reponsible gun owners. Thanks for speaking out!


Posted // January 17,2013 at 10:07 - The second amendment isn't about hunter deer. It's about hunting tyrants. It about hunting governments gone bad, and the bad people in them. It's about hunting down enemies of the nation, internal and external.


Posted // January 8,2013 at 16:33

There was a time that I would have been pround to be a member of the NRA. No longer. It is merely an arm of the gun manufacturers and overly politicised to the rabid right. The leader of this organization needs to be removed and replaced with an ethical one.




Posted // January 9,2013 at 00:43 - Gordon, you go to war with the NRA you've got. The NRA has five million members. There aren't five million manufacturers. Who should they have ties with? Gun control is part of the left's platform. You support those that help your cause. As an NRA life member, you get voting privileges. If you don't like the leadership, vote it out.


Posted // January 2,2013 at 18:12

Your article is flawed. You are a disgrace to hunters! I would never hunt with you. I say "screw YOU!" Thank God for the NRA. -Gun Freak!


Posted // January 1,2013 at 18:13

Who has repeatedly protect your hunting ammunition form adverse legislation and BATFE rulemaking?

The NRA.

Who sends reps to protect your rights to hunt to every state game commission in the nation?

The NRA.

Who works ceaselessly to maintain YOUR access to hunt on public lands?

The NRA.

Who assists in keeping the makers of your hunting firearms free from onerous legislation and spurious liability claims?


Who battles environmental and animal rights extremists so that you may enjoy your pastime, and perhaps method of feeding your family?


The Mother Jones study is tragically and intentionally flawed. The way they count a mass shooting, it never occurred unless at least four people died. So a lawful gun owner, who stops a mass shooting, isn’t credited unless he waits until four have died:

http://m. weeklystandard. com/blogs/it-true-armed-civilians-have-never-stopped-mass-shooting_690808. html

Further, I never knew Mother Jones was such a pro-hunting publication.

But I can say sir, that you are an ingrate. For all the NRA has done for YOU and hunters everywhere, you have chosen to smear and belittle them as a thank you gift. Further, you show a sense of moral bigotry I. E, my gun and sport good, yours bad’. It represents you as a mere elitist snob, to be disregarded.