December 03, 2004

Trust Who?

I was waiting while having some work done to my car. Normally I brave the elements & watch the mechanics automotive technicians rob me blind perform the valuable, timely & economical service to my vehicle. Today it was colder than usual. I'm not sure what the wind chill was but I opted to hang out inside the waiting room. While looking for something to read I happened upon a Field & Stream magazine, from October of 2004. In it was an article that I thought was very interesting, about conservation, or rather the politics thereof.

The article was written by Bob Marshall & is called The Conservamentalists. The gist is that the Sierra Club wants to work with the hunting groups like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation & the Boone & Crockett Club.

Mr. Marshall does a fairly decent job of exploring the issue, which is whether or not to ally with the Sierra Club given its record. However there are a few things that are not emphasized enough & a few others that were neglected.

For starters let's look at who the Sierra Club endorsed in 2004; Schumer, Boxer, Salazar, Mikulski, Obama, Pelosi, McCarthy, Maloney, Rangel etc. & of course Kerry. Out of all the congressional races in 2004, the Sierra Club endorsed 11 Republicans & 2 Independents. The rest were Democrats, & as you may have noticed they endorsed some of the worst opponents of your Right to Arms.

Now I'm not getting all mushy on them or anything but the NRA got this one right,

"Kayne Robinson, the NRA president, forcefully rejected the overture in a controversial speech he gave to the OWAA, in which he sought to link the unrelated issues of conservation policy and gun control politics. 'Virtually every elected official [the Sierra Club] discusses favorably in their literature is dedicated to banning guns,' claimed Robinson. 'We’re not taking part of this,' he said. But spokesmen for other prominent sporting groups weren’t so eager to turn their backs on the enviros."

Now this could be just an unintentional choice of phrasing, but notice where the word "claimed" is used. While it's technically accurate to say that Robisnon claimed the Sierra Club has a history of supporting anti-gun candidates, it conveys the implication that it's merely speculation on Robinson's part, when as you can see it's pretty accurate. "Stated" would have been a better choice of word, but perhaps I'm just reading too much into it.

“It goes without saying that this would be one of the most positive developments in recent history for conservation,' says Paul Hansen, executive director of the Izaak Walton League of America. 'To make it meaningful, however, the Sierra Club, and the rest of the mainstream environmental community, will have to be willing to listen to sportsmen’s concerns, something they haven’t been good at in the past. But this is long past due. At the end of the day, we’re fighting for the same goals.'

That could be surprising news for many sportsmen. For decades the common thinking has been that—unlike hunters and anglers who define themselves as conservationists—environmentalists are a bunch of tree-hugging radicals out to close public lands to hunting and fishing—and to take our guns. So when leaders of sporting organizations say, 'Let’s kiss and make up,' it’s only natural for sportsmen to wonder if they can trust the environmentalists."

Now this was unbeknownst at the time this article was written, but in light of recent developments in NJ I'd say the "common thinking" about the Sierra Club's attitude is accurate.

"This is a victory for good government but it's also a victory for the bears,' said Jeff Tittel, head of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club... 'It's the best Christmas gift they could have this year."

Now contrast that with the following quote made by Bart Semcer who (among other things) is "the Sierra Club’s representative for fish and wildlife policy in Washington, D.C".

“Our official policy is pro-hunting,' Semcer says, 'because it recognizes sport hunting as a legitimate wildlife management tool. The same goes for fishing. And we’re not anti-gun. We have no policy on guns, and we stay out of that debate because there are other groups that specialize in that issue. Do we agree with everything that the sporting groups support? No. But we have much more common ground than we have serious differences.”

Perhaps Semcer should tell that to the NJ chapter?

Now to be fair I have some issues with some of the conservation groups. In 2004 a bill was introduced in the Colorado house that would have doubled fees for hunting & fishing licenses. It was HB1208 & thankfully died a relatively quick death. What was troubling about it was not only the Republicans who supported it but the conservation & hunting groups that did. This article from the Grand Junction based Daily Sentinel laments the bill's demise mentions that hunters & conservation groups were supporters of the bill.

One thing I found funny was that the Sentinel called the doubling of fees a "modest increase". Also the piece starts off with this sentence:

"Frankly, beyond their understandable interest in supporting politicians who respect the constitutional guarantees of the Second Amendment, we've never understood why so many hunters and other outdoorsmen with an abiding love for wildlife are willing to support GOP politicians who consistently vote against their interests and the interests of wildlife itself. "

All I can say is if you vote for people who want to ban guns then that makes it much harder to hunt. I might be off base, but I think that should provide some understanding to the Daily Sentinel.

If you click this link & scroll down to HB1208 you'll see that not only did the Audubon Society support the hike in fess, but had this to say about its demise:

"Despite testimony from most of the sportsmen’s groups in the State, no one was able to overcome the opposition of the NRA and related shooting associations."

So because of knowing these things about some of the sportsman's groups I wasn't too surprised when I saw that some were saying an alliance with the Sierra Club would be a good thing.

On some issues there is common ground & temporarily allying ourselves with Sierra or other environmental groups would be a good thing, but overall they have too many interests that are contrary to ours. Unless they make a very dramatic change in their views about the Right to Arms in general I'd chalk this up to them attempting to use us for their own agenda. & that some sportsman’s clubs are thinking about it means we should keep our eyes on them as well.

Posted by Publicola at December 3, 2004 05:23 PM
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