The National Rifle Association and 30 other hunting, wildlife and conservation groups sent a letter to leaders of the U.S. Senate this week opposing background checks and other restrictions they say are unnecessary to reduce crime or prevent tragedies such as the Connecticut shootings.
The letter also lays out a five-point plan it says will make communities safer. Joining the NRA in signing the letter were the Archery Trade Association, Boone and Crockett Club, Campfire Club of America, Catch-A-Dream Foundation, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Conservation Force, Dallas Safari Club, Delta Waterfowl, Masters of Foxhounds, Mule Deer Foundation, National Rifle Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, National Trappers Association, National Wild Turkey Federation, North American Bear Foundation, North American Grouse Partnership, Orion — The Hunter’s Institute, Pheasants Forever, Pope & Young Club, Quail Forever, Quality Deer Management Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Ruffed Grouse Society, Safari Club International, Texas Wildlife Association, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, Whitetails Unlimited, Wild Sheep Foundation, Wildlife Forever, Wildlife Management Institute and Wildlife Mississippi.
Here’s the letter in its entirety:
The Honorable Harry Reid
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader Minority Leader
United States Senate United States Senate
522 Hart Senate Office Building. Washington, DC 20510
317 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
April 4, 2013
Our organizations, which represent millions of Americans who actively support professional wildlife management and the advancement of our nation’s hunting and recreational shooting heritage, are writing to express our sincere hope that your upcoming gun control debate will be constructive.
Like you, we were devastated by the recent tragedy in Connecticut, and we share your goal of ensuring that appropriate actions are taken to prevent similar acts of senseless violence in the future. We believe an opportunity exists to enact legislation that addresses the causative agents of this and similar tragic events. Specifically we support:
– National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) improvement measures that will effectively prevent access to firearms by those not legally qualified to possess them, without criminalizing private transfers;
– Vigorous enforcement of existing federal firearms laws;
– Efforts to improve security in our nation’s schools;
– A comprehensive process to review, evaluate and recommend changes to our nation’s treatment of the mentally ill before their actions result in these devastating consequences; and
– The development and implementation of a community based “family watch” program that helps families with concerns that an immediate family member who they believe has the potential to become a societal danger is afforded the assistance that they need to intervene before a tragedy occurs.
As much as we support this five point plan that responds to the causative agents that could have potentially avoided this tragedy, we oppose unnecessary restrictions of our ability to attain and possess legal firearms and that have no foundation in addressing the factors that led to this tragedy or like tragedies.
In addition, the signatories to this letter are proud of our hunting and recreational shooting heritage and the support that our activities contribute to our nation’s conservation, economic and societal interests.
Specifically, shooting sports participants are the largest financial supporters of wildlife conservation throughout the United States, having contributed over $5.4 billion to the management of our nation’s wildlife, recreational shooting and hunter education through Pittman-Robertson excise tax payments since 1991. This uniquely American System of Conservation Funding — a “user pays-public benefits” system — is heralded internationally as the most successful wildlife management program in the world.
Economically, the companies in the United States that manufacture, distribute and sell firearms, ammunition and hunting equipment employ as many as 98,752 people in the country and generate an additional 110,998 jobs in supplier and ancillary industries. In 2012 alone the firearms and ammunition industry was responsible for as much as $31.84 billion in total economic activity in the United States. The significant contributions these companies are making to our nation’s economic recovery should not be sacrificed to unnecessary and ineffective restrictions and bans, no matter how well-intended their proponents may be.
These lawful recreational activities provide untold hours of benefits to our nation’s families and their friend and neighbors that should not be unnecessarily impinged upon.
For these reasons, the undersigned organizations respectfully request that you continue to work collectively, as the voice of sportsmen and recreational shooters in Congress, toward pragmatic bipartisan solutions in a manner that enhances wildlife conservation, benefits the economy and protects America’s rich hunting and shooting heritage, while not impeding the Second Amendment rights of our members. Thank you for your ongoing service to our nation and future generations of sportsmen and women conservationists.
Archery Trade Association
Boone and Crockett Club
Campfire Club of America
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
Dallas Safari Club
Masters of Foxhounds
Mule Deer Foundation
National Rifle Association
National Shooting Sports Foundation
National Trappers Association
National Wild Turkey Federation
North American Bear Foundation
North American Grouse Partnership
Orion, The Hunter’s Institute
Pope & Young Club
Quality Deer Management Association
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Ruffed Grouse Society
Safari Club International
Texas Wildlife Association
U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance
Wild Sheep Foundation
Wildlife Management Institute
CC: The Honorable Patrick Leahy
The Honorable Chuck Grassley