Sportsmen have a lot to lose in the debate over firearms. And nation's largest gun advocacy group isn't doing them any favors.
As a parent, news of the Newtown tragedy last month reminded me of the most sobering fact I know: that my time with my son is finite, and any moment together could be our last. My heart aches for the friends and families of the victims.
As a hunter, the news unleashed in me a different kind of sadness. For a large and growing population, the shootings confirmed a violent, inaccurate stereotype about American gun ownership. I know because seven years ago, I, too, held this view.
That's not to say that I'm upset about renewed calls for gun control. On the contrary, I think stricter gun control is long overdue. Like many hunters, I believe that owning a gun is a very serious responsibility, one that warrants oversight. I want guns and I want gun control, and I believe there's a way our nation can have both.
Unfortunately, when the details of upcoming bills get hashed out behind closed doors later this year, there probably won't be anyone in the room to represent gun owners like me. We sportsmen have done ourselves a disservice by allowing the National Rifle Association to become synonymous with gun owners. The NRA's outright rejection of almost all gun control is unreasonable. Hunters have a lot to lose in the upcoming debate over gun legislation. But because we're already subject to firearm regulations by our state fish and game agencies, we have a lot to offer the debate, too.