“We have to do this,” Blaine Cooper told me in a rush. “The BLM lit a fire to burn this ranch down because they want the uranium that’s under it! The left blew up buildings, killed people, enslaved people to make this wildlife refuge!”
Cooper was sitting behind the wheel of a white pickup, heater blasting, and talking to me through the open window. It was the middle of last January, maybe 12 degrees above, here at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, with day just breaking over a universe of frost-whitened sagebrush and 6 inches of old snow.
Background checks are already a thing. Expanding them is pointless.
This is the first of a 3-page document, Form 4473, entitled ‘Firearms Transaction Record.’ Every law-abiding citizen in the US fills this form out, awaits processing by the seller, and receives approval from the Federal Government to purchase his or her weapon before they can leave a store with a gun. The story that they’re not wide-reaching or all-inclusive is a myth. Most lawful gun owners have no problem with this process and see it as a meaningful way to keep guns out of the wrong hands. But, lawful gun owners aren’t the problem. The problem is the system that sits behind this paperwork is flawed, has loopholes, and fails to punish the criminals who don’t use it. More encumbrance on lawful individuals is absolutely not the way to keep the unlawful from having guns. That’s like lowering the speed limit because some people speed. Let’s encourage our lawmakers to start discussing real solutions.
The anti-hunting movement has overwhelmed the consciousness of the hunting industry. Hunters, hunting land, firearms, and the sporting way of life are under attack politically and socially. Millions of hunt-able acres are shut down in Oregon to protect the spotted owl. Lead ammunition is banned in California. Increasingly legislators, not biologists, are making wildlife management decisions. Professional huntress Melissa Bachman receives threatening messages to this day, over a year removed from the day she posted her now-famous lion photo. A deceptive foe, the Humane Society of the United States, seems to gain momentum even in the face of science, ethics and reason. The negativity and pressure has taken its toll, leaving industry leaders frustrated and searching for answers. A way of life once mandatory to sustain life is now fighting for its own life.
According to John Frampton, industry veteran and leader of the Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports, “we’ve got to do something drastic or hunting as we know it won’t exist for future generations.”