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for people who care about the West

Gun controllers need to think again

  Dear HCN,

I am glad that Ali Macalady and her family are devoted to hunting. I share with her the belief that "there is something important about harvesting my own food," and a love of early mornings spent waiting for game. But it is disappointing to read that an outdoorswoman such as Macalady considers it a politically moderate position to throw the Second Amendment open to re-interpretation. She is certainly correct in her assumption that the hunters who share the woods and plains with her each fall would see her position as both radical and unsettling.

In criticizing James Baker's address to the Outdoor Writers' Association, Macalady apparently does not realize that the taxes on firearms and ammunition, paid through the Pittman-Robertson Act, bankroll millions of dollars' worth of wildlife-conservation efforts every year. Whether you buy an AR-15 or a "socially acceptable" (for now) .270 deer rifle, 11 percent of the money goes to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - all handgun purchases, and ammunition, contribute 10 percent of their purchase price. Yes, most of it goes to making life better for big game and game birds, and some of it goes to promoting hunting and shooting, but it is still a fantastic treasure chest benefiting non-game wildlife and habitat for all creatures.

That is what Baker was talking about when he stated that the gun-control agenda was also a war on wildlife conservation. Nowhere in the essay does Macalady say what type of "gun control" she and her father would support. In rejecting the "Hunter Myth," the Macaladys have merely bought another myth, hook, line and sinker - the myth created by frightened urbanites that says absolute safety is preferable to liberty, and that extreme and horrific occurrences like the Columbine massacre should be the basis for the taking away of freedoms which they personally do not cherish anyway - such as the right of responsible citizens to be armed in the manner that they judge will best meet their needs for hunting or defense of self, family and principles.

I hope that "Hunters for Gun Control" will remain only a concept, written on a sign, a testament to a well-meaning hunter who simply didn't think it through.

Hal Herring
Corvallis, Montana