Interview with Scott Bach

Our first interview is with Scott Bach, currently serving NRA Board Member, and President of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, which is the NRA State Association for New Jersey.  My questions are in bold.  Scott’s answers are italicized.

Why stay in New Jersey?  There’s plenty of freedom just across the river.  Why stay in New Jersey and fight against the odds?

There are many good reasons to leave New Jersey, and some of our finest patriots have made their exit in recent years. Those of us choosing to stay are determined to defend freedom no matter what the odds, and in recent years we have proven that anything is possible by repeatedly defeating the major legislative priorities of anti-gun extremists in a place where it should have been easy for them to prevail. By keeping the battle in the “front line” state of New Jersey, we occupy the resources of the anti-gun-rights movement and help keep the fight contained here rather than allowing it to easily spread elsewhere. For this reason, gun owners from other states should not write off New Jersey, and should actively support the gun rights organizations that have taken on this especially challenging burden, which actually helps the cause elsewhere. Because we face a State House controlled by anti-gunners, we have had to invent innovative techniques and strategies, and make novel arguments that have also helped shape the debate nationally.

The situation in New Jersey right now can best be described as defensive.  Lately it seems as though we may actually be making some progress in holding off new gun control in The Garden State.  If  presented with the opportunity to go on the offensive, what will your priorities be?

We are actively working under extremely challenging circumstances to elect a majority of pro-Second Amendment lawmakers, and to change the minds of those still in office.  A rapid sea change in the State House is unlikely right now (though we have opportunities to take back the Governor’s office and make inroads in the Assembly in 2009).  When the day eventually comes that we have a majority of pro-Second Amendment lawmakers in the State House, my priorities will include: repealing New Jersey’s misguided semi-auto ban and “smart gun” law, removing impediments to carry rights, strengthening citizens’ right of self-defense, making firearms easier for honest citizens to obtain, and eliminating New Jersey’s insane system of regulation which is in essence a ban on everything with narrow, ill-conceived exemptions which put honest citizens at risk of lengthy jail sentences for “crimes” like stopping for food or fuel on the way to or from the target range.  New Jersey needs to stop targeting gun rights and start punishing criminal behavior.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled in D.C. v. Heller that the Second Amendment was an individual right.  What impact do you think this could have on New Jersey’s draconian gun control laws?  Is this case something that can be used in the short term, or is there more legal precedent that needs to be hashed out before proceeding forward with a court strategy?

The Heller case essentially defined the outer contours of the Second Amendment, leaving a universe within those contours left to be explored by courts in decades to come.  Before that exploration can take place, there must be a judicial determination that the Second Amendment applies to the States via the somewhat obscure legal doctrine known as “incorporation.”  Several carefully selected incorporation cases are now pending in several states.  Once those cases are decided, there will be other cases that test draconian gun laws.  However, case selection is critically important, and should be viewed from a national perspective.  Only the clearest, most egregious cases should be brought first, in the places most likely to yield positive results, and the legal minds examining potential cases are absolutely first rate, and they comprehend the big picture.  A poorly selected case in one state could impact the entire nation negatively.  A decades-old New Jersey case by an overzealous party should serve as a warning.  That case, Burton v. Sills, actually held that the Second Amendment does NOT apply in New Jersey, and it was cited in Heller by anti-gunners as a model that should be followed nationally.  Fortunately, 5 Justices disagreed in Heller.  Gun owners need to be patient while the lengthy case selection process unfolds, and respect the judgment of the great legal minds of our day as to when and where the best cases should be taken up.  Those who have not been disciplined in this way in the past have done damage to our cause, and have made accomplishing our legal goals much more difficult.

One area of controversy in New Jersey is over bear hunting.  Most wildlife experts are in agreement that New Jersey is in desperate need of a bear hunt in order to reduce their population to manageable numbers.  What is ANJRPC doing to help authorize a bear hunt in New Jersey?

In partnership with sportsmen’s groups, ANJRPC has been working both publicly and behind the scenes to reinstate the New Jersey bear hunt as a public safety measure.  New Jersey’s out of control bear population is a threat to life and property.  Our bears have become habituated to humans and identify them as a potential food source, and have lost all fear of people.  As a result, we have had a dramatic rise in bear attacks and incidents, including home and car break-ins, stalkings and other predatory behavior.  In 2002, a 6-month old girl was yanked head-first out of a stroller and partially EATEN by a black bear before dying just a few miles north of New Jersey’s borders.  In 2003 and 2005, we were successful in reinstating limited hunts (the first in 35 years) which temporarily reduced bear incidents, but the Corzine administration has used every dirty trick in the book to block further hunts.  An exploding population of habituated bears combined with a shrinking habitat virtually ensure that subsequent incidents are inevitable.

I know you grew up in New York City, which is not typically fertile breeding ground for gun rights activists.  Given the high likelihood that subsequent case law built on Heller will invalidate much of the City’s gun laws, and probably some of New Jersey’s, what steps do you think could be taken to introduce the Second Amendment and shooting sports to more urban and suburban residents.

My observation is that there are already very healthy numbers of gun owners even in large metropolitan areas.  The problem is that they happen to be greatly outnumbered by anti-gunners, so their collective power is blunted.  There are already thriving outreach programs for new shooters in metropolitan areas, and those will continue to grow over time.  For example, NRA’s Women On Target and basic firearms instruction programs have an active presence based in New York City, and ANJRPC’s outreach programs to women, youth, and minorities draw several thousand new shooters per year.   These activities will continue and grow as Heller’s impact is felt.

I want to thank Scott for participating in our Q&A session, and I hope he will have your support for the Board of Directors.

19 thoughts on “Interview with Scott Bach”

  1. This guy is a laughable extremist, and his hysteria over the black bear issue is ridiculous. There has been no rise in bear attacks, and bear-human interactions have not resulted in the carnage that Bach claims. Conveniently he fails to mention the how many people are killed or injured by hunters each year.

  2. I don’t think Scott is the laughable extremist here. The number of people accidentally killed by hunters each year is vanishingly small, and I would be willing to wager the number for New Jersey is zero or close to zero.

    As for bear incidences, according to this report in the Associated Press, bear complaints are up 84% and home entries have more than doubled. Make no mistake about it, Alex, when the bears start to exhaust the food supply in their habitat, they will turn to humans for food, and tragic consequences are inevitable.

    Virtually all experts, people who actually know about wildlife and work with it, say that the bear populations exceed that which the ecosystem can handle. When that tragedy does strike, those deaths will be on your shoulders Alex, along with all your other friends who refuse to see hunting as acceptable practice for wildlife management. Humans are the only apex predator in New Jersey who can bring bear populations down. The only other choice is wasted killing, like the DEP is already doing. Hunters will use the animal.

  3. Virtually all experts, people who actually know about wildlife and work with it, say that the bear populations exceed that which the ecosystem can handle.

    A little off topic … but not much, is the fact that virtually all experts, plus many non-experts, agree that HUMAN pupulations exceed that which the ecosystem can handle.

    Sebastian … the bear issue in NJ is far less about what the ecosystem itself can handle, and far more about an ecosystem that is far more full of people than bears.

    But on that note, I strongly advocate properly managed hunting, certainly including bear hunts.

  4. That might be the case. There’s nothing really unnatural about bears turning to humans for food, either by rooting through dumpsters or eating their children. But there’s also nothing unnatural about humans preying on bears.

  5. Jdude, I believe these questions did come from reader submissions. Sebastian can verify, but I believe he came up with these based on common themes and questions. Not every single question made it in its original form because some others were more popular or more relevant to the director’s background or position. We wanted to respect their time (these folks all have regular jobs in addition to their duties for NRA, state groups, and running for the seat), so the number was limited.

  6. I tired to limit things to five questions, and make them relevant to the issues that the candidate has expertise in, or is currently working on. I used the ideas from people’s questions in building these. For instance, “How do you plan to facilitate new shooters, in particular, finding training and places to shoot?” turned into the last question, because it’s highly relevant to improving the political climate in New Jersey.

    The second question was in a bunch that were submitted that went something like “What gun laws will you work to repeal.” that I rephrased to be relevant in a New Jersey context.

    The bear question was mine, because it’s a big issue right now in New Jersey, and no one else asked about it. The first question was not submitted, but is something you hear people asking New Jersey activists about all the time, so I thought it was relevant to ask Scott.

    I did not specifically ask him your question, Jdude, because it’s honestly not a current issue that’s being fought over in New Jersey, or at the federal level. I can assure you, however, that Scott has done a lot of work fighting the .50 caliber and other large bore firearms bans that have been proposed in New Jersey, and are currently not going anywhere because of the work of ANJRPC and other groups.

  7. scott conveniently leaves out the baby in her mothers arms in her home which a hunter shot and killed last year. hunters in nj killed a man in readington nj about a month ago. hunters in nj shot into a bedroom in a home in readington about 2 months ago, which could have killed 4 people in the home. hunters in mt olive nj shot into a home recently and could have killed people. it is but for the grace of God that people were not killed by hunters. I get reports every single day of hunters killing others around this nation. they kill their fathers, their sons, ladies hanging out wash in their backyards because they think the white item being hunt on the line is a deer – How about dick cheney, who knew his friend was in the hunting party and shot anyway?

    his acknowledgment of where the gun wackoks live is also illimunating. it shows why fish and wildlife have virtually zero meetings in urban centers but usually have any meetings in more rural areas where the red neck beer bellies live.

  8. Hunting accidents to happen. The vast majority of them are falling injuries, and people overexerting themselves and having coronaries. There are shooting accidents, but they are exceedingly rare, Dick Cheney peppering a lawyer with bird shot notwithstanding. Hunting is considerably safer, statistically, than soccer or football for kids.

  9. his acknowledgment of where the gun wackoks live is also illimunating

    I can see you’re a remarkably tolerant person, open to different ideas and ways of living. Not someone out to look down on people you feel are beneath you at all!

  10. What the anti-hunters are amazingly leaving out is how many of those were attached to illegal hunting activities. Shocking that bad things happen when people break the law.

    And hunting is even safer than cheerleading.

  11. “I did not specifically ask him your question, Jdude,”

    I appreciate your response.

    “because it’s honestly not a current issue that’s being fought over in New Jersey, or at the federal level.”

    Some day we will get there.

    “I can assure you, however, that Scott has done a lot of work fighting the .50 caliber and other large bore firearms bans that have been proposed in New Jersey, and are currently not going anywhere because of the work of ANJRPC and other groups.”

    For New Jersey, that is pretty good. Thanks.


    For everyone else, my question was about restrictions on big bore (>.50) guns.

  12. I’m not going to hide my motivations for issuing Board Endorsements. It’s partially to help get people who I feel are worthwhile, engaged, and who bring something to the table elected to the NRA Board, and also partially to help out some of the people who have been very supportive of the NRA outreach to new media. Maybe it’s my bias being a blogger, but I think those two purposes are highly related to each other.

    No doubt a lot of people are going to be disappointed that I’m not out to make board candidates answer a lot of questions to prove to me and everyone else their ideological purity. To a large degree, I am asking people to trust my judgment on these folks. The purpose of the interviews is to give you some more information that you’re not going to get through the nominating process, which is not conductive to giving people quality information, or giving membership access to the candidates.

    I actually think the criticisms of the process from some of the less compromising portions of the blogosphere are completely valid. But much like their approach to other political matters, I don’t think the one they are using is likely to succeed, or make any impact on the direction of NRA over the long run.

  13. I thought the anti-hunting worms the crept out of the woodwork here were very revealing – how estranged they are from nature-based activities.

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