NRA Campaigns Against The Plan To Save The World’s Elephants

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An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM

By Hayes Brown, ThinkProgress.org
March 2014

“Any firearm, firearm accessory, or knife that contains ivory, no matter how big or small, would not be able to be sold in the United States, unless it is more than 100 years old. This means if your shotgun has an ivory bead or inlay, your revolver or pistol has ivory grips, your knife has an ivory handle, or if your firearm accessories, such as cleaning tools that contain any ivory, the item would be illegal to sell.”

For that reason, the NRA implores its members to flood the White House and Congress with phone calls and emails to “let them know you oppose the ban on commercial sale and trade of legally owned firearms with ivory components.” That desire to resell old — but not antique — weaponry clearly is more important to the NRA than preventing the looming extinction of the species — which is linked closely to the skyrocketing demand for ivory.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) on Friday (February 28) asked its 3.1 million members to call their representative in Congress and urge them to block a rule designed to protect the world’s elephants from being poached into extinction.

Last month, the White House announced a ban on the commercial trade of elephant ivory, placing a total embargo on the new import of items containing elephant ivory, prohibiting its export except in the case of bona fide antiques, and clarified that “antiques” only refers to items more than 100 years old when it comes to ivory. “This ban is the best way to help ensure that U.S. markets do not contribute to the further decline of African elephants in the wild,” a White House fact sheet on the announcement declared.

The NRA is disturbed about provisions of the ban related to domestic resale of items including ivory. “We will finalize a proposed rule that will reaffirm and clarify that sales across state lines are prohibited, except for bona fide antiques, and will prohibit sales within a state unless the seller can demonstrate an item was lawfully imported prior to 1990 for African elephants and 1975 for Asian elephants, or under an exemption document,” the White House said in February.

While many people would make the mistake of assuming that this was about helping save endangered elephants, the NRA understands what the real motivation is. “This is another attempt by this anti-gun Administration to ban firearms based on cosmetics and would render many collections/firearms valueless,” the NRA said in its call to arms.

“Any firearm, firearm accessory, or knife that contains ivory, no matter how big or small, would not be able to be sold in the United States, unless it is more than 100 years old. This means if your shotgun has an ivory bead or inlay, your revolver or pistol has ivory grips, your knife has an ivory handle, or if your firearm accessories, such as cleaning tools that contain any ivory, the item would be illegal to sell.”

For that reason, the NRA implores its members to flood the White House and Congress with phone calls and emails to “let them know you oppose the ban on commercial sale and trade of legally owned firearms with ivory components.” That desire to resell old — but not antique — weaponry clearly is more important to the NRA than preventing the looming extinction of the species — which is linked closely to the skyrocketing demand for ivory. “In 2013 alone an estimated 30,000 African elephants were killed for their ivory, more than 80 animals per day,” Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones, Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week.

The commercial ivory ban is only part of a new National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking announced at the same time as the embargo, which prioritizes “strengthening domestic and global enforcement; reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife at home and abroad; and strengthening partnerships with international partners, local communities, NGOs, private industry, and others to combat illegal wildlife poaching and trade.” In that vein, the United States has been leading the charge in persuading countries around the world to destroy their stockpiles of intercepted ivory, annihilating six tons of it last November. Since then, Togo, China, and France have also followed suit and destroyed seized contraband of their own.

Aside from the conservation concerns, which the NRA doesn’t seem moved by, poaching is increasingly being viewed as a national security issue for the United States. In an interview last year, Robert Hormats, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, said ivory had become a “conflict resource.” An Enough Project report from last year also found that Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army has begun poaching ivory from elephant tusks to fund the group’s activities, which include abducting children and forcing them into sex slavery.

Bill promoting hunting, fishing passes U.S. House

By Dave Golowenski For The Columbus Dispatch
Sunday February 9, 2014

A divergent range of sportsmen’s groups commended the passage in the U.S. House of Representatives of the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (SHARE) last week.

The package of eight bills represented by SHARE would promote hunting and fishing on land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and make the purchase of a federal duck stamp easier. Among the act’s authors is Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green).

Groups including Safari Club International, the National Rifle Association and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership praised the bill and urged the Senate to follow the House’s bipartisan approval.

Meanwhile, a measure that would raise the price of a federal duck stamp to $25 from the current $15 moved out of a Senate committee last week. Revenues generated by the stamp help fund wetlands conservation.

No bump in price has occurred since 1991, the longest period without an increase since the program was established during the 1930s.

Honked off

A Mississippi hunter is reporting he got his 8-point buck after he blew his nose. The sound apparently ticked off the buck, which came running toward the hunter’s stand in full attack mode.

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/sports/2014/02/09/bill-promoting-hunting-fishing-passes-u-s–house.html

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The Guns of Mid-Winter

When I wrote my book, Exposing the Big Game, its subtitle, Living Targets of a Dying Sport, was appropriate. But like so many things in this rapidly changing world, by the time the book came out, that subtitle was becoming obsolete. Now, in the second decade of the 21st century, the sport of blasting birds, murdering deer, culling coyotes and plunking at prairie dogs—in a word, hunting—is seeing a seemingly inexplicable resurgence.

Lately we’re seeing longer hunting seasons on everything from elk to geese to wolves, with more new or expanded “specialty” hunts like archery, crossbow, spear (and probably soon, poison blow gun) in states across the country, than at any time in recent memory. Meanwhile, more Americans are taking up arms against the animals and wearing so much camo—the full-time fashion statement of the cruel and unusual—that it’s starting to look ordinary and even, yuppified.

So, when did cruel become the new cool and evil the new everyday? Are the recruiting efforts of the Safari Club and the NRA finally striking a cord? Did the staged “reality” show “Survivor” lead to the absurdly popular thespian cable spin-offs like, “Call of the Wildman,” “Duck Dynasty” and a nasty host of others? Is “art” imitating life, or is life imitating “art?” Did the author of the Time Magazine article, “America’s Pest Problem: It’s Time to Cull the Herd,” ratchet up the call for even more animal extermination?

Whatever the reason, I don’t remember ever hearing so many shotguns and rifles blasting away during the last week of January. By the sound of the gunfire, coupled with the unseasonably dry and warm weather here in the Pacific Northwest, you’d swear it was early autumn.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2014. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2014. All Rights Reserved

United “Sportsmen” of Wisconsin Awarded $500,000 Grant to Promote Hunting

DNR awards $500,000 grant despite thorny questions

Group is lone bidder for award to promote hunting, fishing

Madison — A controversial $500,000 grant for promoting hunting and fishing was awarded Thursday by Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp despite tough questions from the public and a committee meeting earlier in the day.

The United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation, a group with close ties to GOP politicians and other conservative organizations but a scant track record, was the only applicant for the award.

Stepp awarded it to United Sportsmen late Thursday afternoon after the Sporting Heritage Committee that morning voted 4-1 in favor of the grant. The vote came after the group took public testimony that was entirely opposed to it.

In announcing her decision, Stepp released a finding by her legal counsel that United Sportsmen of Wisconsin met the criteria in state law for the grant and said in a statement that she had to award the money to United Sportsmen under a budget provision written by Republican lawmakers.

“I will be inserting clear and specific language within the grant contract to ensure that desired outcomes are met in an efficient and transparent manner with ample opportunity for public scrutiny. We will work to incorporate many of the concerns and ideas we heard during today’s hearing into the grant contract,” Stepp said.

United Sportsmen has been active in elections and lobbying over the past two years on behalf of conservative causes. But it has no history of doing the kind of training called for in the grant, though its board members have done so as part of other groups.

The grant was quickly approved in May in a session of the Joint Finance Committee on a motion written by Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) and Rep. Dan LeMahieu (R-Cascade). The DNR posted the grant on an agency web page but did not put out a news release on it.

Its language prevented most established conservation groups, including the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and state chapters of Pheasants Forever, National Wild Turkey Federation and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, from applying for the grant.

Lone no vote

Mark LaBarbera of Hazel Green, the sole member of the committee to vote against United Sportsmen, asked the group’s president questions about its finances, structure and qualifications, stressing that “people around here think this just doesn’t smell right.” Afterward, he said he wasn’t satisfied with the answers as given.

“I didn’t think we had a clear enough answer that I could vote yes so I had to vote no,” LaBarbera said.

LaBarbera asked United Sportsmen president Andy Pantzlaff if he could provide a copy of United Sportsmen’s letter from the federal Internal Revenue Service showing it had received tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status.Pantzlaff, who called into the meeting, said he could provide that with enough time.

As of Thursday, there was no entry on the popular website, GuideStar, that United Sportsmen had filed the annual reports that federally recognized tax-exempt groups are supposed to file with the IRS, though sometimes those reports can lag in being filed or posted to GuideStar. Pantzlaff didn’t respond to a reporter’s phone messages and email request for this information.

The drafting file for the budget bill shows that a lawmaker asked for a specific change to the grant motion so the group receiving the grant would not have to be recognized as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

In the legal memo released by Stepp, her chief legal counsel Tim Andryk noted that, “(United Sportsmen is) not required by the statute to be tax exempt or be a sec. 501(c)(3) organization as inquired about at today’s hearing, and thus a letter from IRS is not needed.”

In his statements to the committee by phone, Pantzlaff said his group would try to triple the grant amount by seeking private matching funds; not paying its board members; doing a national search for a full-time executive director; and hiring a full-time director of operations and part-time staffer to work on public policy.

The group would seek to train people who could serve as long-term mentors for people wanting to learn to hunt and fish, he said. The group also would bring programs such as the National Rifle Association’s Eddie Eagle gun safety program into schools to get youths interested in shooting sports.

“Failure is not an option,” Pantzlaff said. “We have to try something new and innovative.”

The grant will provide $200,000 this year and $300,000 in 2014. Thereafter, it will provide $450,000 in each two-year budget. The grantee will have to provide $150,000 of its own funds in matching dollars in each future two-year budget.

The state budget includes no requirement that the grant be put out to competitive bid in the future, but Scott Gunderson, the committee chairman and the No. 3 official at the DNR, said the DNR could do that and likely would.

Gunderson said conservation groups such as the Gathering Waters and River Alliance of Wisconsin also received grants from the DNR for specialized purposes with little or no competition.

Most of those testifying praised the purpose of the grant but questioned why more of the state’s many hunting and fishing groups weren’t able to apply. Ray Anderson, a retired DNR grants employee who now teaches hunter safety, said he was concerned by the process of the grant and the fact it excluded the National Wild Turkey Federation, a group that he belongs to.

“It would be prudent for the Legislature and the DNR to hit pause on this,” Anderson said.

The five-member Sporting Heritage Committee is composed of Gunderson; Rep. Al Ott (R-Forest Junction); LaBarbera; Sen. Neal Kedzie (R-Elkhorn) and Bill Torhorst of Oregon. Ott, the first committee member called upon to vote, initially passed, voting yes after all the other committee members had voted and he was called on a second time.

Though its foundation was legally established in January, United Sportsmen of Wisconsin was formed about two years ago and has been lobbying lawmakers in favor of sporting legislation such as the creation of a wolf hunt as well as bills to ease the way for a controversial open-pit iron mine in northern Wisconsin and to better enable development in wetlands.

The group also sponsored the Sportsmen Freedom Fest and Concert in Lake Delton with Americans for Prosperity and the NRA in October 2012, just ahead of the presidential election. In 2011, the group Citizens for a Stronger America reported in its tax filing giving $235,000 to United Sportsmen along with large donations to two social conservative groups: Wisconsin Right to Life and Wisconsin Family Action.

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Sarah Palin Has Found Her Niche with the NRA

The other night I watched the HBO movie Game Change, about John McCain’s selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his presidential running mate in 2008. After Tina Fey’s hilarious portrayal of Palin on Saturday Night Live I was half expecting a comedy, but this fact-based film stayed so close historical reality it should have been billed a horror flick. The thought of Sarah Palin a heartbeat away from the red button that could launch our 7,000+ nukes on a president’s whim is beyond scary.

While Julianne Moore usually doesn’t do anything for me, her depiction of Palin at her highest, lowest and airheaded-est was spot on. It was almost painful watching a potential American VP be so clueless about foreign policy, domestic policy, or any other policy for that matter. Ed Harris as Senator John McCain was a bit of a stretch, but Woody Harrelson did a great job as McCain’s strategist, Steve Schmidt, who was partly responsible for suggesting Palin in the first place—and who spent the rest of the movie regretting it and desperately trying to coach her. After she goes catatonic during a Q&A session and later tries to seize power from her running mate, someone asks Schmidt, “Have you ever considered that she might be mentally unstable?30973_4756818474045_484772904_n

Well I consider it every time I see her. To me she’s little more than a female Ted Nugent—especially when she dons her hunting garb.

Near the story’s end, Harrelson’s Schmidt asks Rick Davis, his co-conspirator in picking Palin, “Still think she’s fit for office?” to which Davis answers, “Aw, who cares. In forty-eight hours no one will even remember who she is.” Unfortunately, Davis’ hopeful prediction did not come to pass.

The film leaves you wondering how the hell someone like Palin ever got tapped for VP and how she thinks she has any credibility left after monumental blunders like her interview with Katie Couric. Well, apparently Sarah Palin has found her niche as a mouthpiece for the National Rifle Association—a group clearly unconcerned with credibility (and collectively as mentally unstable as Palin herself).

Sporting a t-shirt making the simplistic yet inexplicable statement “Women Hunt” (including an obscenely suggestive line-drawing that probably went over her head), she called the NRA crowd she spoke to Friday her “brothers and sisters” during her 12-minute speech in which she told the crowd that Trigger is her son Trigg’s nickname and that Remington is her nephew’s middle name.

The creepy thing is, she received standing ovation.
Although Sarah Palin came off in the movie as a power-tripping right-wing extremist bordering on evil, if anything, Game Change was too nice in its representation of her. What sort of woman hunts? A woman like Sarah Palin.

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Good Questions

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On Facebook this morning a friend had posted a photo of a cruelly confined pig at a factory farm desperatly chewing on the bars of her cage. A caption read, “If your God had wanted us to eat animals, do you really think he would have given them the ability to feel pain and fear? What kind of sadistic individual would that make him?!”

Good questions. Taking it a step further, I have to wonder…if god had wanted us to eat animals, do you really think he would have given us the ability to feel their pain and fear?!

Unfortunately, empathy and compassion are not doled out equally to all.

Some people feel them so strongly it literally pains us to hear about the brutalities inflicted on nonhumans by their fellow man. The sadness is outweighed only by the understanding that many of the animal cruelties are so widespread and so accepted by society it will require nothing short of a major revolution in thinking to put an end to them. For those of us so well-endowed with empathy and compassion, every KFC, Arby’s or McDonalds commercial, every shiny photo ad for this weeks’ meat and dairy specials at the local market, every camo-clad nimrod in a pickup truck sporting an NRA bumper sticker inspires feelings of grief, anguish or anger.

There are those, Temple Grandin, for instance, may be able to feel empathy but apparently not compassion. Her autism allegedly allows her to experience the fear and anxiety factory farmed animals go through, yet her lack of compassion allows her to work for the animal industries, helping to spread the absurd, feel-good myth that some animals are “humanely” raised (and slaughtered), thereby giving consumers a license to ignore any twinges of empathy or compassion they might have.

And there are many who are completely incapable of feeling empathy for others. They’re the lucky ones—if hollowness, selfishness and superficiality are to be considered enviable traits.

For Safety’s Sake, Some Gun Collectors Should Switch to Stamps

According the Associate Press,five people were wounded in accidental shootings at gun shows in North Carolina, Indiana and Ohio on Saturday. That’s five shooting victims—all in one day!

At the Dixie Gun and Knife Show in Raleigh, a 12-gauge shotgun discharged as its owner unzipped its case for a law enforcement officer to check at a security entrance, injuring three people, a state Agriculture Department spokesman said. Two bystanders and a retired deputy sheriff were hit by shotgun pellets and taken to a hospital.

Sheriff Donnie Harrison said that it was too early to know whether the shotgun’s owner might be charged, but that it appeared to be an accident. (But don’t be surprised if the victims are the ones who end of being charged—with failure to wear a bullet proof vest at a public gun show.)

The North Carolina show, which is held at the state fairgrounds (not annually, but four times a year), usually draws thousands of people (some of whom actually survive the event unscathed).

In Indianapolis, police said a 54-year-old man was injured when he accidentally shot himself while leaving a gun show. (He could have saved himself the entry fee if he would have just shot himself before leaving home.)

Emory L. Cozee, of Indianapolis, was loading his .45 caliber semi-automatic when he shot himself in the hand as he was leaving the Indy 1500 Gun and Knife show at the state fairgrounds. Police said that loaded personal weapons aren’t allowed inside the show, but (presumably since the shooting occurred outside the building in the fairgrounds parking lot) no charges will be filed. (After a trip to the emergency room, Cozee is comfy once again.)

And in Ohio, a gun dealer was checking out a semi-automatic handgun he’d just bought when he accidentally pulled the trigger. The gun’s magazine had been removed, but one round remained in the chamber, police said. The afore-mentioned (magic) bullet appears to have ricocheted off the floor and struck the gun owner’s friend in the arm and leg. The (erstwhile) friend was taken by helicopter to a hospital 30 miles north in Cleveland; his condition was not immediately known.

Now I’m not trying to trounce on anyone’s God-given American rights (except the self-allocated “right” to hunt and kill animals recreationally), but for safety’s sake, maybe some of these folks should take up crocheting, knitting or collecting stamps, rather than gun collecting. Once they’ve mastered benign hobbies such as these, if they still feel the puerile need to prove their machismo, they could work back into it slowly, starting with craft shows or canasta tournaments.

Hell, it sounds like playing Russian roulette is probably a safer pastime than attending some of those gun shows.

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Time to control gun violence—against animals

As predictable as the fact that there will be another mass shooting in this country again sometime is the inevitability that when it happens talk of controlling gun violence will crop up again. The two seem to go hand in hand. The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School is a case in point; the media has been rife with talk of controlling gun violence—against people.

But when I saw a recent article about a handgun buyback it hit me: most mass murderers use high-powered rifles—hunting rifles—but the buyback is only for handguns. Why isn’t there a buyback on hunting rifles? Oh, that’s right, hunting is a sacred institution—perpetuated by the likes of Dick Cheney, Ted Nugent and the NRA—no one can touch it. Forget all the violence done to animals, or even to crowds of people, if it means going up against hunting.

Never do you hear a peep about stopping gun violence against non-human animals. It’s as if they are inanimate objects, living targets to practice on. But if we really want to prevent the next school shooting or mass murder of mall shoppers, isn’t it time we address the violence inspired and nurtured by hunting?

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Sun Tzu: the Art of War For the Wildlife

Like any other technological advancement, the internet is a tool that can be used for good or evil. Social media is a great venue for educating and rallying caring people and amassing an army of kind folks to work together for a positive change.

At the same time, it can also be a meeting place and breeding ground for sick minds sunk so deep in the gutter that hate oozes from every pore. The general public is now well aware of the problem of pedophiles and stalkers trolling the internet, but there’s another malevolence out there they don’t hear much about—mainly because the crimes committed by these psychopaths are legal.

I’m talking about the prideful trophy hunters showing off their kills on Facebook; the sneering wolf hunters and trappers who post their grotesque triumphs on webpages where they know they’ll be viewed by people who are already so distraught that one more image may push them over the edge. It’s part of the game to them, to see who snaps first. Don’t be their next victim.

My advice to those of you who, like me, can’t stand seeing another NRA leader gloating over a dead water buffalo, or country star hunched over a bear he murdered with a bow in a fenced in canned hunting compound, or a wolf-hunting website designed just to turn the stomachs of kindhearted wolf advocates: don’t go there—at least for a day or two. Take some time off if you need to. Hold on to the anger, but try to pace yourself. Wars are not won by those who are blinded by rage or lost in a pit of depression. There’s an art to war; it takes self-discipline and careful strategy to be victorious.

Rome wasn’t toppled by the first invading army; like the decadence of sport hunting, it had to crumble from within first.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson