When Commenting on Hunting is Just a Comment on Hunting

This was originally going to be a comment over at No Lawyers, but I really hate having to register with new accounts to comment. John posted about the annual Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation Congressional Shoot-Out, and he noted some of the press release quotes that caught his attention:

It is good to see both Democrats and Republicans supporting the shooting sports. However, judging from some of the comments by the co-chairs, many of these legislators still confuse supporting duck hunting with supporting the Second Amendment.

I don’t think it’s fair to criticize them for making hunting-related comments in a press release from an organization focused on hunting & fishing policy representing a caucus dedicated to hunting & fishing legislative topics.

Considering that Rep. Mike Ross is leading the “Second Amendment Task Force” in Congress and has a consistent A+ NRA rating, I don’t think it’s fair to say that he truly believes the Second Amendment is just about hunting. The same goes for Rep. Jeff Miller who has been a member of the Second Amendment Caucus and has an A rating from NRA.

It’s a shooting event to support a caucus that focuses on hunting policy. A press release quote on that very topic doesn’t show any kind of bias against their understanding of gun rights.

Since I’m making this a full post, I’ll also address one of his other suggestions with a dose of DC-practicality.

Next year I’d propose a little different shooting competition. Instead of trap, skeet, and sporting clays, why not make it a 3-gun competition? You’d still have the shotgun involved but would add both rifle and pistol to the mix. Now that would be interesting! It would also show the ATF Shotgun Study team that 3-gun competition is a sporting use.

As an alternative since so many Members of Congress announced after the shooting of Gabby Giffords that they had a concealed carry permit and planned to use it, make it an IDPA pistol competition. That would let us see how serious they are about self-protection and what level of real training they have.

My standard response to this is similar to what I say to people who think that the NRA meeting should be in their backyard: Where would you propose doing all of this? The PG County Trap & Skeet Center only has shotgun ranges. It is chosen as one of the closest ranges to Capitol Hill. The reason why? It’s tough to line up to two dozen members of Congress at the same time to shoot three-different shotgun events that can all happen on the same range. If you waste hours fighting traffic to get members out to a facility that could host any of those events, they won’t come. And then you don’t have any members of Congress participating in any shooting sport.

The other reason is that sporting clays, trap, and skeet are closely related to hunting, one focus of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus. Instead of lamenting that the hunting caucus is doing hunting-related shooting, perhaps these suggestions might go to the Second Amendment Caucus instead.

14 thoughts on “When Commenting on Hunting is Just a Comment on Hunting”

  1. It is worth noting, that while they don’t have 3 gun (and really – its not cause their anti gun, its cause 99% of the gun shooting public doesn’t know what the heck it is or how to shoot it) they have had various live fire demonstrations of other shooting activity . . . the coolest was two years ago when they had a shooting range in a trailer and we could choose from different scenarios – a street market in Falujah, a high school with a mad Virginia Tech type shooter, etc – and then you went in with an M4 and a Beretta hand gun and got to experience a virtual reality shootout using live ammo.

    But, Bitter’s general comment is right on the mark. This isn’t a 2nd Amendment Event – though everyone there for the most part is a second amendment supporter – but rather a shotgun shooting event. Largely cause thats what PG County has to offer.

    Oh, and there raffles have included all manner of firearms – from shotguns like the Beretta Silver Pigeon I won a couple of years ago to AR15s and muzzleloaders and bolt action rifles and hand guns (they had a S&W Governator this year).

    Its a great event and a great opportunity to hang out, relax, shoot and talk guns and hunting and fishing with friends and our elected representatives.

  2. Frankly, I didn’t even know there was a congressional 2A Caucus. I assumed, incorrectly, that the Congressional Sportsmans’ Caucus served that same function.

    As to a 3-gun match, that part was tongue in cheek. However, they could do a IDPA match indoors and I’m sure the NRA would gladly allow their range in Fairfax to be used.

    HR 822 now has 214 co-sponsors so only needs 3 more to have the needed majority (sponsor plus 217) to pass the House.

  3. It’s simply my view that criticism of someone for participating in a different shooting sport than one’s favorite is exactly the “throwing people under the bus” type of behavior that people in the community say they want to get away from.

    In my experience in the issue – both in terms of working with grassroots and on a professional level – that the most strict 2A folks are actually the quickest to judge and toss people off the bus as not pure enough. And that’s just not a way to win the long-term battles.

    I’m happy to have informed folks on the Second Amendment Caucus and the true function of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus. I just hope that we’re not so quick to judge that we disavow their event & their support of our hunting heritage (also an important component of shooting sports & the fight for gun rights) even when they are on board with us for most, if not all, of our other legislative agenda items. A trip around the trap, skeet, and sporting clays ranges might not be every gun owner’s ideal way to spend a morning, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate when our elected officials are taking time to participate in our sports.

  4. “A trip around the trap, skeet, and sporting clays ranges might not be every gun owner’s ideal way to spend a morning, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate when our elected officials are taking time to participate in our sports.”

    I don’t know what other gun nuts consider an ideal time, but I got to spend all day Monday and Tuesday hanging out and shooting.

    That is 100% of the time a much better way to spend the morning than at work doing actual work (not that I wasn’t technically “working” while shooting) :)

  5. BTW, every year I think to myself how much I have to thank you Bitter. What a fantastic time. You and Sebastian should try to make it down one year.

  6. I live in Southern Maryalnd. There are a few ranges in driving distance from DC that they could use. Hell the NRA range isn’t too far.

  7. Driving distance on a Tuesday morning on the tail end of rush hour vs. driving distance at a time most people go shooting are pretty different. And, IIRC, it takes more time to get to Fairfax than to PG County. And again, this a hunting-focused caucus. It’s not the IDPA caucus. Is it so terrible that they participate in shooting sports most closely related to hunting?

  8. There are no other places they can use.

    It took me 2 and 3/4 hours to get to my office today (it was an exception – usually not this bad. But today’s traffic isn’t unheard of either). I live in Mclean, and my office is basically at the corner of 1st and Constitution. Its a 15 mile commute.

    It takes me – on a normal day – 20 minutes to get to PG County Trap and Skeet from my office. It takes at least an hour to get to the NRA HQ range.

    Plus, the NRA Range is simply incapable of handling both this type of event (who the hell wants to be indoors on a gorgeous day) or this number of people.

    They could do this at Bull Run, but there going to have to budget well over an hour for transportation each way. Plus, I don’t think its as well laid out for this type of event, nor does it have other features that would be as attractive as PG County.

  9. What we are discussing here is the difference between what Michael Bane has characterized as Gun Culture v.1.0 and Gun Culture v.2.0.

    V.1.0, which is what the Congressional Sportsmans’ Caucus represents are those who were introduced to the gun culture through family involvement with hunting. It was much like the deer hunting culture in the state of Pennsylvania with deer camps, hunt breakfasts, etc. Further South, it might be the opening day of dove season.

    V.2.0 represents the newer entrants to the gun culture who may not hunt, may have come from an anti-gun family, and are more interested in self-protection for themselves and their families. Concealed carry (and especially the growth of shall-issue) has brought many more people into the gun culture.

    I’d probably characterize myself as Gun Culture v1.5 as I come from a mixture of these backgrounds (except the anti-gun part).

    The good part of this event is that you have both Democrats and Republican interacting together in a civil manner. Indeed, it is refreshing to see that the sporting clays event was won by a black Democrat.

    I don’t consider a slight criticism of politicians as throwing them under the bus. I welcome their participation in the shooting sports. However, as someone who has followed the blood sports both here and abroad for over 30 years as well as the anti-gun, anti-hunting, and anti-fishing forces opposed to them, I do realize better than you can imagine that we need to defend all aspects of hunting, shooting, and fishing. When I hear a a tactical fanboy call hunters FUDDS I cringe just as much as when Jim Zumbo called AR-15s terrorist rifles.

  10. Well said John. Bennie Thompson is a hell of a shot. I was actually at a different fundraising junket event once talking guns with Bennie and some Blackwater guys when a different member of the CBC came over and said something about common sense gun control and keeping guns out of the hands of kids.

    Bennie jumped to the 2nd Amendments defense and said he learned to shoot a gun as a kid and growing up in the South it served both to put food on the table and protect his family’s security.

    I was most impressed.

  11. On the point of where to hold a three-gun near DC, also in PG County is the Beltsville Secret Service center. They host three-gun competitions for law-enforcement and related entities. I think they once had non-LEO involvement until it became too much to manage. It’s a short drive.

    That said, I agree it is not required. The 2A Task Force is pretty plugged into the scene – I have spoken to one or two aides in that operation that are big into guns and organized shoots. One told me of his machine gun collection.

    I don’t think the non-gun community is quite ready for a nightly news story about “Zombie Killing Congress Critters”. At least, not yet.

    There is still a slight rift between organizations for “hunters” and “gun owners”. It is healing. But some wounds take time.

  12. I think a 3-Gun match would be great.

    Considering one of the matches on the 3-Gun Nation Tour is at Ft. Benning, GA and there have been 3-Gun matches at Quantico, VA in the past. Maybe a putting the Congressional Sportsman’s Foundation in touch with the folks at the National 3-Gun Association can make this sort of event happen in the future.

    With the number of Iraq & Afghanistan vets being elected to congress who have trained and shot pistol, rifle and shotgun in the past, maybe we can demonstrate to the rest of congress that high capacity pistols, rifles and shotguns do have a sporting purpose.

    Looking outside of congress, I would love to see Antonin Scalia shoot a 3-Gun match.

  13. Camp David would work…it’s got enough space, it’s vert secure, and I’m sure the SeaBees would do a great job clearing and building the ranges to be used. The biggest problem I can see would be getting POTUS to approve…maybe in another couple years.

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