Why the NRA needs to stay neutral on land-use issues

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Hopefully you guys can help me out because I am trying to understand something. I have noticed that a growing number of hunters are becoming unhappy with the NRA and even canceling their memberships because of the NRA's failure to take a stance on the public land issue. Before finding this forum, I had always been a firm supporter and I always believed in the work this group does to represent us as gun owners and to fight on our behalf.

With that said, I have been giving it a lot of thought and have come to the conclusion that even though I am a public land advocate and almost always side with the environment on land use issues, I believe its a very wise move for the NRA to stay neutral on this issue. Furthermore, I think we are all better off because of it.

First off, the NRA was designed to protect our right to own firearms, not specifically our hunting privileges. A lot of hunters seem to think that because of how much influence and power the NRA has, by it taking a pro-public land stance our fight will be a lot easier. However, think of all the NRA members who are on the dark side of the public land debate, who would undoubtedly be very upset if the NRA took our side. Right now, the NRA still has very high approval ratings from both sides of the public land debate, but I have no doubt that these would plummet and that it would lose many members if it were to take a side either way.

The only way that the NRA will keep it's high membership and approval rating and, in turn, keep raising the money to be so effective in representing us as GUN OWNERS, is if it remains neutral on this issue. Believe me, I wish we lived in a world where the NRA could take a public stance on the public land debate and join our side but still keep all of its members and be just as effective, but we don't. So, basically, it seems to me like we should support the NRA to represent all of us (on both sides of public land issue) as gun owners, while at the same time supporting the RMEF, BHA, etc. and getting our message out there on this other issue.

Am I missing something here, or am I bringing up some good points? I am really curious to hear what you guys think!
 

grizzly_

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I think you're bringing up good points, but if I donate to NRA and they turn around and contribute to Rob Bishop and Mike Lee and work to keep them in office... I'm kind of slitting my own throat.

This ultimately comes down to one basic question...

Does, or should, the NRA take official positions on non-gun-related legislation, even if it protects the hunting heritage?

Many people believe the NRA is a single-issue organization and should not be involved in protecting our hunting traditions, that they are purely a 2nd Amendment organization.

I would point out that the NRA takes positions regarding shooting ranges and target shooting on public land and that they have a magazine called American Hunter, which shows an acknowledgement of the relationship between hunters and gun-owners. They have also previously taken positions on wilderness areas. This all makes it very clear that the NRA has chosen to weigh in on land/hunting related issues in the past.

Here is a quote for you that should put that debate to rest... “Anti-hunting and animal rights extremists seek to incrementally destroy America’s hunting heritage,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “The NRA and SCI's filing for intervenor status seeks to ensure that American hunters and their interests are represented in this case, as we continue to fight for the complete delisting of gray wolves from the Endangered Species Act.” Basically, this states the NRA was active in the judicial battle over wolf-delisting (hardly a 2nd Amendment fight).

Thus, it is very clear that the NRA is willing to take up fights to protect hunters from "extremists" that "seek to incrementally destroy America's hunting heritage" (I read that as Rob Bishop and his ilk, but that's just me). The NRA even calls itself "the number-one hunter's organization in America" (hservices.nra.org).

The NRA-ILA states that it aspires 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, wilderness, and wildlife conservation."

Yet somehow, the NRA either supports, or at least fails to oppose, the selling of federal lands in the Western US. How can this be, when a poll of hunters found 73% oppose the sale of public lands? (http://www.bullmoosesportsmen.org/hunters-see-value-in-federal-tracts-oppose-selling-them-poll)

Hmmm... I wonder why they are mum on protecting public lands then? Could it be the massive contributions they take from the energy industries?

Here's a few examples...

In 2010, after the NRA received a $1 Million donation from CWE (an oil company), Kevin McCarthy introduced the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act. "It posed a very real threat to backcountry areas around the country," says Matt Lee-Ashley, a CAP senior fellow and the author of the think tank's report referenced below. It would have allowed mining, road building, logging, and oil and gas extraction on protected federal lands. More than 200 wildlife managers, identified as "dedicated hunters and anglers" wrote a letter to Congress denouncing the bill. Eight Colorado hunting organizations said the bill was "an affront to a long-standing public process and our outdoor heritage." The NRA then teamed up with the American Petroleum Institute and the National Mining Association in support of the bill. Does this sound like the self-proclaimed "number-one hunter's organization in America"?

After the previous bill failed to pass, Dan Benishek introduced the bill again, but renamed it the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act. The National Wildlife Federation called it "nothing more than the sportsmen community being used as a cover to hide an attack on Wilderness, National Monuments, and National Wildlife Refuges." Susan Recce, NRA Director of Conservation, Wildlife, and Natural Resources, testified before Congress in support of the bill. It failed to gain traction, but was ultimately attached to HR3590 so it would pass Congress.

In 2012 alone, six oil and gas companies contributed a total of between $1.3 million and $5.6 million apiece 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.)

CWE is the 6th largest NRA donor overall and the largest donor outside of the firearm industry. These aren't small donations. It is obvious the energy industry is a major financial contributor to the NRA. Why would energy companies donate to the NRA if it didn't benefit them financially?

If you haven't uncovered the answer by putting the pieces together yet, or you want more info for your own personal research... See the report titled "Oil and Gas Industry Investments in the National Rifle Association and Safari Club International: Reshaping American Energy, Land and Wildlife Policy" published in April 2014 (written by Matt Lee-Ashley, director of public lands, CAP). Here is one excerpt...

"The positions that are being advanced by oil- and gas-funded sportsmen groups appear to be out of step with the basic principles for wildlife and natural resource management that American sportsmen have been advocating for more than a century. Instead, these groups’ efforts align with the oil and gas industry’s longstanding campaigns to expand drilling activities in national forests and public lands; sell off federal public lands with high mineral value to private interests; block efforts to protect public lands for their backcountry or wilderness characteristics; and fight the nation’s most effective wildlife recovery law, the Endangered Species Act.”

I've spent a lot of time researching this and could provide even more information and evidence, but if this doesn't do it then I doubt more proof would do any good.

I'll admit that I was skeptical of the claims by others that the NRA was too involved with the oil industry. I felt the NRA was probably neutral on the public lands sell, but they were remaining silent due to loyalty to the Republican Party. It now appears to me that the NRA is likely an actual player in the push to sell public lands to the energy companies (which is also why I believe the oil magnates, the Koch Brothers, are the single-largest donors to the American Lands Council, the main instigator of this fraud on the American people).

If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, looks like a duck... well, you get the picture.
 
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Joined
Jul 15, 2015
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Grizzly, thanks for the info! I am going to do some more research on this NRA/energy company relationship. I really hope your wrong about the NRA leaning towards the transfer/sell off of public lands, but if that turns out to be true they will lose my support. Our vast public lands in the west are one of the greatest sources of pride for me in being an American, and it is scary to think how close we may come in the near future to losing access to it.
 

Big Fin

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I'm a life member of the NRA and I am glad they are advocating on 2nd Amendment issues, thus my financial support of their efforts even if I don't always agree with all they do. To your point, I'm not willing to give them a free pass on the public land issue, or other hunting issues. I'll try to explain why.

The NRA often claims they represent hunters. Anyone who doubts such only needs to attend a forum, hearing, or panel where the NRA is giving input on a hunting topic. I have seen it many times.

For my Life Membership in the NRA, I get a monthly magazine titled "American Hunter." The Editors column on Page 8 always contains a column by Scott Olmsted, Editor in Chief and a very good guy. He is very much committed to the hunting cause. At the bottom of that page are six points they call the "NRA Hunter's Code of Ethics."

I could list many other instances where the NRA stakes a claim to being a voice for hunters. They want all the benefits that come with proclaiming to represent hunters, so they need to actually represent hunters or just admit that representing hunters adds too much complication to their 2nd Amendment advocacy.

I am fine with the NRA claiming to represent hunters, so long as ......

...... so long as they truly advocate on behalf of hunters and hunting

...... so long as they don't give a free pass to those politicians who are damaging hunting

...... so long as they aren't doing things quietly that are detrimental to hunting

...... so long as they are not taking positions, privately or publicly, that negatively impact hunting access for those western hunters, 70+% of whom rely on public lands for their hunting access.


So long as the NRA is going to stand up and fight for hunters, I am happy to have them staking a claim for a mouthpiece of the hunting community. My experience of being involved in decades of political battles is that the NRA is too often on the wrong side of what I think is best for hunting/hunters, or when they could make a positive impact for hunters/hunting, the NRA is nowhere to be found.

I don't agree with is the NRA making a claim to support hunters/hunting/hunting access, while supporting politicians who are screwing over hunters in a big way, either at the state or national level. You can't have it both ways if you are the NRA.

Either you support hunters and you use your very large club to keep some of the fringe operators in line on hunting issues ....

Or,


You quit claiming to represent hunters/hunting/access when you leave hunters out in the cold if it comes down to a hard decision with a few of your friends on the fringe.​


It's that simple. If you want the benefit of saying you represent hunters, then represent them when the time comes, don't run and hide.

I would still support them as part of defending the right to keep and bear arms even if they did state that hunting is not one of their priorities. I feel that strongly about the 2nd Amendment.

Being very engaged in political battles of access and public lands, it is frustrating to know that the NRA could make a huge impact with those policy leaders who are most damaging to access and public lands, a cause they would advocate for if they "walked the walk" of representing hunters, yet they are absent when those opportunities arise. Credibility with hunters requires you do what you say you are going to do. As a group, hunters have a pretty heavy BS filter and I suspect is why the NRA has such low membership rate among western hunters who see the NRA-supported politicians being their greatest threats to hunting.

And it is not an "either-or" proposition. A organization, and politicians, can be good on 2A and on hunting access. The two topics are not mutually exclusive, rather I would argue any politician wanting support from hunters should be good on both. We have plenty of examples of groups and politicians who are good on both.
 

grizzly_

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BigFin, your post got me thinking... Earlier I stated the NRA discussion came down to one question, "Should the NRA be involved in non-gun-related legislation?"

Your post made me think there is another pertinent question to consider, "If sportsmen face threats on their public lands and threats on their guns, which threat is greatest?"

It would be ideal if a group like NRA would be a strong proponent of both the 2nd Amendment and Public Lands, but if they choose to support 2A legislators who are seeking to take public lands then we need to decide which threat is strongest.

My personal belief is that the 2A is in a better position than it possibly ever has been. I base that on the Heller and McDonald decisions from the Supreme Court, various state Constitutions and court precedents, the actual decrease in popular support for gun-control over the last 20 years, and the fact that there are already 300 million guns in America today.

Also, any gun control legislation that passes could be repealed by a future legislature, overturned by a court ruling, or vetoed by a governor or president. There are many checks and balances in place to protect gun rights... much of which is due to decades of hard work by the NRA. The fact that an anti-gun President like Mr. Obama has been unable to pass gun control laws, even in the wake of Sandy Hook and others, only gives credence to my argument that guns are reasonably safe right now. Even the Executive Order he recently issued is basically toothless and merely defines existing laws, and he was making as broad a grasp as possible at a gun control legacy.

Public lands however face an assault like never before. The Murkowski test vote actually passed the Senate 51-49 in favor of transferring Federal lands to the states and we have every reason to believe the House of Reps would also pass it in the current climate. If we were to have a sympathetic president in office today, it could very well already be a done deal. Unlike gun control legislation, the sale of public lands could never be undone and the web of problems it would cause would be nearly impossible to unwind once it was discovered the states could not afford to manage the lands properly. In a word, the land grab is FINAL. There is no question that Congress has the authority to sell/transfer public lands and there is no tool to "repossess" public lands once they are gone.

That is why, when it comes to my donations, I'll take my chances with gun control as I feel public lands are the greatest present danger to my way of life and that of my children and grandchildren.
 

James Riley

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Personal anecdote: I was an NRA member in the early 1980s but quit when I found out they were actively helping the Blue Ribbon Coalition, as a litigant, to try and gain motorized vehicle access to some roadless areas. I couldn't understand what that had to do with the Second Amendment. This was thirty years ago so it's not new.

I have since investigated other groups and found a few that swore up and down they limited their focus strictly to Second Amendment issues. However, each and every one sent me news letters and emails flapping their yaps about issues that had nothing to do with the Second Amendment.

I soon learned that lobbying is going to be part and parcel of any effort by these groups to support the RTKABA and thus I would end up supporting people I can't stomach (chicken hawks and such) on other issues.

I was hoping to find something more like the A.C.L.U. that was devoted to litigation supporting people who got busted for violating some un-Constitutional federal, state or local gun control law. But no, lobbying is the money maker. The NRA usually only jumps on a law suit after some poor sap or some other group started and financed the case and then it looks to be a good one. *Then* the NRA gets on the band wagon and trumpets to their members how "they" won the case. :rolleyes:

I'm on my own on the Second Amendment.
 

Corax

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I have been a life member of the NRA since about 1978. Some years back I went through an issue of American Hunter and counted the number of pages of ads for ATVs and for guns. There were more ATV ads than gun ads. Follow the money.

Selling off federal land is going to have a lot bigger impact on my life than banning "assault weapons", and I plan to vote accordingly.
 

Tradewind

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If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, looks like a duck... well, you get the picture.

A Well illustrated argument Grizz. I was skeptical until I read all of that. I especially like your point about being able to repeal or undo any legislation on the 2nd A vs getting public lands back.
My renewal is up for the NRA. I will be asking some pointed questions before I send them check.
 

Big Foot

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Straight Arrow

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When I graduated from Montana Hunter Education in 1957, it was the NRA Safe Hunter program and NRA's primary mission was promoting firearms responsible ownership and safety. That now takes a backseat to political pandering and lobbying, with massive fundraising promotions.

There was much blame for poor decisions and actions to be shared by all parties during the Ruby Ridge and Waco debacles. Thereafter, NRA's spokesman Wayne LaPierre labeled ATF and FBI law enforcement as oppressive and onerous "jackbooted thugs", a characterization which cast a broad net over all federal government employees. Although LaPierre apologized, it was too late. In my opinion, his rhetoric spawned the wannabee soldiers and plastic militias with the assault rifle as their characteristic firearm and emboldened the Bundy federal government hater types, This broad characterization of federal employees has endangered the timber cruiser in the Beaverhead National Forest, the range manager on BLM land, even the campground maintenance person, and further has resulted in physical attacks on these hard working public servants, some of whom are our neighbors, friends, relatives, and good people merely trying to do honorable work prioritized by upper level decisions fraught with inadequate budgets requiring difficult priority decisions.
That era ended my membership support of NRA, because LaPierre etal did not do enough to correct the impact of his rhetoric. It could be argued that NRA's March 1995 rhetoric may have pushed Timothy McVeigh's Oklahoma City tragic bombing of April 1995. NRA still has not stood up and softened rhetoric regarding the federal government.
 

shoots-straight

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I too was a long NRA supporter. That ended when they took sides in Montana on I-143 ( the initiative to ban the hunting of game farms in Montana) They sent out a large mailing to discredit the group fighting to ban this practice. These guys were Montana sportsman, and it was costing them greatly to get this thing done.

A long time life member, and game farmer, of the NRA got them involved. I called up the chain as far as they would let me and talked to a guy in Washington DC. He told me that the initiative process was really the problem. I told him it wasn't their fight and told him that I would no longer support them. I too tired of all the mailings, and phone calling. I'm glad they still fight for the 2nd Amendment but there are others groups that do that too. I still make the calls and fight the fight, but not through them.
 

hank4elk

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I quit 20 + yrs ago and I still get mailings weekly. That's 3 address' ago.
I didn't want to be involved with a pro big business group and the jackbooted thug BS.
I don't want to be in their data base at all.

I can defend my 2nd amendment rights just fine myself......
 

u1299

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No use for the NRA anymore. Quit when Reagan became President. Sick and tired of their love affair with Republicans. There's only one Party I know of who are relentless in their efforts to privatize my public lands and it's not the democrats. I simply made the decision that if all my guns were confiscated but for 1 rifle and 1 shotgun (which I don't believe for a second will ever happen), I could still hunt every big game animal, waterfowl, upland bird, and turkey in North America, but if I have an armory full of guns and no public land where I can hunt and fish, what's the point? What on earth is so terrible about common sense gun control anyway? I support it and if that makes me an anti-gun, progressive, liberal, socialist or whatever other name you want to call me in the view of some, so be it. I didn't coin the phrase, but I'm a Fair Chase DIY Public Land Hunter and proud of it. I've never been a one issue voter but in the current political climate with seemingly every Republican Politician supporting the transfer then selling of my public lands, it's the #1 issue for me right now.
 

katqanna

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I just finished reading an article on the NRA that came up on my sportsmen feed. There were a number of issues brought up, like 3D printed guns, NRA funding primarily coming from gun manufactures, NRA taking stands on issues unrelated to guns, statistics of declining gun owners, differing views of the majority of membership, NRA claiming victory for candidates they spent only $100 on, etc. Some of these issues have been brought up at this forum, just wanted to throw the link out for anyone interested.

The Civil War that Could Doom the N.R.A.
 

sbhooper

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The NRA should stay out of land issues and fight their own battles. Unfortunately, give up your support for the NRA and the left-wing nutballs win. The NRA is the only organization that is effective at fighting the worthless politicians over gun rights. I am not real fond of them either, but they are the only effective game in town-unless losing your gun rights doesn't matter.
 

Storm Widgeon

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I was on the verge of renewal, have the envelope on my desk as I speak mater of fact. But after researching what has been said here, I must admit I will not be sending my money, period.

How can these gun manufactures continue to support the NRA, when they know the NRA are doing these things? The gun manufactures have got to know, the hunting industry is the biggest drive for most folks to purchase more firearm. If I had no public lands to hunt, I don't need but one or two for protection and target shooting. How can they be so blind and not raise the BS flag on the NRA?
 

dannyb278

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Have never joined and will never. Besides backing land transfer folks they also back numerous politicians whose message is against my view on what American rights should be. For all Americans not just those who look like them. I will never join the NRA
 

Trial153

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I totally disagree with the premise that the NRA should remain neutral on PLT issue. Hunting is a huge contingent of gun owners in america, if the NRA support politicians that are promoting and agenda that is dentramtial to us as hunters then its detrimental to all firearm owners.
This is coming from a lifetime NRA member, furthermore both my children have been gifted lifetime memberships. I have expressed my opinion several time in the form of letters and phone calls to the NRA about this matter. This is nor comprise issue for me. if they don't support us in this then they will lose my support.
 
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