To hunt you must shoot. But, not all hunters are “gun guys” and not all “gun guys” are hunters. When it comes to the highly politicized topic of gun control, where does this leave people who only own guns to hunt?
As gun owners, I believe the 2016 election may be the most important of our lifetime. Our government is run by people who show up. If more anti-gun voters turn out, we can expect an erosion of our gun rights. If more 2nd Amendment supporters turn out, maybe we can affect the gun conversation in ways that better reflect the way we feel.
I believe the “threat” to gun-owning hunters is more immanent than some might think. The gun in the photo above is a semi-automatic shotgun (as you probably know). It’s a ‘hunting gun’, and also happens to be my most cherished worldly possession. This means it scares me when politicians talk about banning ‘semi-automatic weapons’ or propose legislation that would require me to store it at my local police station. While I’m not aware of any United States governmental body literally taking guns from law-abiding citizens, there are many examples of city and state governments entertaining and even enacting laws that I view as an infringement on my right to keep that specific gun in my home and use it to hunt.
In New York City, I would be required to have a permit to purchase this gun, have to register it, even if I already owned it before the Bloomberg gun law passed in 2014, and I would need a license to leave my house with it. You and I both know that only law abiding citizens are going to go through all of that. So, what comes next?
The path toward stricter gun control is well worn in countries like Australia and England, where hunting is often referred to as “The Sport of Kings.” It’s time consuming and expensive to jump through the necessary hoops to secure a firearm, find a place to go, and to learn hunting safety. So, the wealthy are more likely to hunt and the poor are less likely to hunt.
We live in a time when easy access is changing everything. As Americans, we enjoy access to cars we don’t own via Turo, to homes we can’t afford via HomeAway, and even to things such as boats we didn’t buy via Boatbound. Through our phones we can access tee times, bowling lanes and movie tickets; we can sign-up for softball league, enroll our kids in gymnastics, and pretty much get whatever we need whenever we need it. Making access to the guns you need to hunt more difficult creates one more hurdle, one more time sink, one more reason to choose something else to do. As hunters, we know that going less often hurts license sales, decreases funds for conservation through our Pittman-Robertson Excise Tax contributions, and negatively affects our ability to bring new people into our way of life.
As a hunter, you may choose to hunt without guns. I often do so myself. The overwhelming majority of our cohort uses a firearm as their primary method of take. No matter how you hunt, I encourage you to consider the role of guns in hunting and use your voice in support of the type of leaders who will uphold our 2nd Amendment. Follow the laws yourself and push for stricter enforcement of those that already govern the possession and trade of firearms in your area.
Without your voice in the gun conversation, our beloved North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, and wild animals and places we value more than any other group of people on the planet may not survive.