It is the proverbial spark in a powder keg; an “open letter” signed by a dozen high-profile names in the outdoors including outdoor writers, a former Fish & Wildlife Service director under Barack Obama, and two former presidents of the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) encouraging “gun reform” has ignited tempers on social media, courtesy of the Huffington Post.
It has dredged up memories of what amounted to an insurrection of OWAA members more than a decade ago the led to the creation of the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), and rekindled the bitterness between gun rights activists and people unkindly dubbed as “Fudds.” In the firearms community lexicon, a “Fudd” is someone who owns guns for hunting and doesn’t think the Second Amendment is an insurance policy against government tyranny.
According to one definition, “These people also generally treat owners/users of so called ‘non sporting’ firearms like handguns or semiautomatic rifles with unwarranted scorn or contempt.”
“As our numbers have dwindled, many have found a comforting alliance with Second Amendment radicalism. But we believe this is not representative of most hunters, and certainly not the tradition of the hunter-sportsman.
“We do not need AR-15s or any assault-style weapon to hunt game. That’s not to say some people won’t use them to hunt. But they are simply not necessary, and are actually not preferable for legitimate, fair-chase hunting.”—Open Letter excerpt, signed by Daniel Ashe, former USFWS Director, February 2011-January 2017
Published under the byline of Daniel Ashe, who served as USFWS Director in the Obama administration from February, 2011 to January 2017, when Donald Trump moved into the Oval Office, the “Open Letter from Hunters about Gun Reform” is a non-starter from the headline to the last word where gun rights activists are concerned. Their reactions on Facebook and in the comments section of the article bear that out.
Bottom line here is that, say activists, the Second Amendment “isn’t about hunting.” It is about freedom, self-defense, checks-and-balances on government and the ability of the people to resist. It affirms and protects a right to keep and bear arms but was not included in the Bill of Rights to defend against marauding deer or Alfred Hitchcock’s birds.
Ashe and his colleagues offer a 10-point “gun reform” proposal:
- An age minimum of 21 years to purchase any gun;
- Anyone on the Terrorist Screening Center’s “no-fly list” may not purchase or possess firearms;
- Anyone on Social Security disability due to mental illness may not purchase or possess firearms;
- Prohibit new sales of semiautomatic assault or tactical-style weapons;
- Prohibit new sales of semiautomatic shotguns or rifles (except .22-caliber rim fire) that can hold more than 10 rounds;
- Prohibit any accessory designed or mechanical modification intended a) to increase the rate at which any firearm may be discharged; or b) to increase the magazine capacity of a semiautomatic rifle beyond 10 rounds (except .22-caliber rim fire);
- Mandatory and universal background checks for all firearm sales;
- Prohibit sales of firearms except through registered/licensed dealers (no direct private sales);
- Enact gun violence restraining order authorities allowing courts to temporarily prohibit a person from purchasing or possessing firearms when a family member, community welfare expert or law enforcement officer presents evidence of a threat; and
- Repeal the “Dickey ban” on scientific research in the area of gun violence and implement the Institute of Medicine’s 2013 gun violence research agenda.
These are talking points straight out of the gun control wish list, and many in the gun rights community look at them as “first steps” toward even stricter measures.
“We’re not talking about a regulated privilege,” activists argue, “but a fundamental right protected by the Constitution.”
The “Open Letter” may serve only to remind tens of millions of law-abiding gun owners of a cultural divide in their own ranks. There are, it would appear, gun owner activists fighting to defend the Second Amendment, and country club gun owners willing to throw many in their ranks under the nearest bus for the sake of elitism.
But that bus could become a runaway, and once it begins rolling, it can eventually run over anybody.