Hunters and the Gun Debate

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.

About the author:
Eric Dinger is the co-founder and CEO of Powderhook.com, an app built to help people hunt and fish more often. He can be reached at eric@powderhook.com.
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3 thoughts on “Hunters and the Gun Debate”

  1. I own a fair number of guns, 52 to be exact-handguns, shotguns, rifles, WWII weapons, and two old pump shotguns that don’t work and can’t be repaired that were my father and father in law’s hunting guns. I also hunt. I also think the NRA and many gun owners are making it too difficult to enact reasonable legislation to better ensure only people who should own guns can buy them. I support universal background checks including background checks at gun shows in the 36 states that now don’t require them. It doesn’t make sense to me that I have to have a ten minute background check run when I buy a gun in a gun store but one isn’t run when a buy a gun in a gun show from a non FFL who has a table of over a hundred guns, mostly new and still in the original box. People may say that isn’t where underage kids and criminals buy guns but no one really knows because there are no records of the transaction. For the last gun I bought at a gun show they didn’t even ask for my driver’s license. Most of my hunter friends feel the same as me. And I’m not an anti-gun liberal. I’ve been around guns all my life, live in a conservative rural southern state, belong to the NRA and local shooting range, hunt, and have both a concealed carry and C&R license. If gun owners don’t help come up with reasonable laws to control bad guys access to guns on the open market (and I realize some will still get them on the black market) people who don’t know anything about guns or appreciate our hunting traditions will make them for us. Regardless of the propaganda you read the voter numbers are turning against us and the one thing politicians respond to more than NRA Lobbying Money is Voters. A Politicians primary job is to get reelected.

    1. Actually Thomas the real problem is legislators that have absolutely no idea about guns passing laws involving them. They will not stop at universal back ground checks. Because what happens when that does not work, because it will not stop crime. The real problem lies in two areas society refuses to to look at, the mentally ill, we are serving them a huge injustice by not putting them away and getting them the proper care, some people are not deemed fit to be in society. And number two is the black on black murder rate. Look at these major inner city crime rates, I think most of everything can be traced back to drugs. But this is another problem, the war on drugs is a huge problem, the government cannot control it. I agree with you something needs to be done, but I do not think gun restrictions are the answer, we should be looking at the real reasons things happen and accept the truth instead of avoiding it.

      1. I don’t disagree with your comments but I’ve taken the time to observe at the last couple of Gun Shows I’ve gone to and while there are some mom and pops with tables of less than a dozen guns there are also sellers with over a hundred guns, most new still in the box. Hard to argue they are Collector’s or getting rid of some extra guns in their personal collection. And I’ve observed kids that don’t look 18 and guys I wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley paying cash for guns with no record of the transaction, not even a driver’s license. That’s scary. Maybe none of these guns ever end up in a crime, but after what I’ve personally seen that’s where I’d buy a gun if I didn’t want it traceable.

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