From Gandhi to guns: An Indian woman explores the NRA convention

http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/28/world/indian-immigrant-nra-convention/

The author, an Indian-American, visiting her first NRA convention on Friday.

Atlanta (CNN)Guns are not a part of the culture of my homeland, except perhaps for the occasional Bollywood movie in which the bad guy meets his demise staring down the wrong end of a barrel.

My childhood in India was steeped in ahimsa, the tenet of nonviolence toward all living things.
The Indians may have succeeded in ousting the British, but we won with Gandhian-style civil disobedience, not a revolutionary war.
Trump: Eight-year assault has come to end

Trump: Eight-year assault has come to end 01:07
I grew up not knowing a single gun owner, and even today India has one of the strictest gun laws on the planet. Few Indians buy and keep firearms at home, and gun violence is nowhere near the problem it is in the United States. An American is 12 times more likely than an Indian to be killed by a firearm, according to a recent study.
It’s no wonder then that every time I visit India, my friends and family want to know more about America’s “love affair” with guns.
I get the same questions when I visit my brother in Canada or on my business travels to other countries, where many people remain perplexed, maybe even downright mystified, by Americans’ defense of gun rights.
I admit I do not fully understand it myself, despite having become an American citizen nearly a decade ago. So when I learn the National Rifle Association is holding its annual convention here in Atlanta, right next to the CNN Center, I decide to go and find out more.
My eyes open wide inside the vast and cavernous Georgia World Congress Center. I take in countless exhibits by the firearms industry and even check out a few guns. Among them are the Mossberg Blaze .22 semiautomatic Rimfire Rifle and an FN 509 semi-automatic 9mm pistol.
I’ve never had the desire to own a gun. I try hard to experience the excitement of others who are admiring these products.
Around me are 80,000 of America’s fiercest patriots and defenders of guns. Many are wearing American flag attire and T-shirts with slogans like: “Veterans before refugees” and “God loves guns.”
Few people here look like me. Most appear to be white and male. Many view the media, including my employer, with disdain — and they do not hesitate to let me know.
I walk around with some trepidation, but I’m determined to strike up conversations. I begin with this question: “Why do you want to own an object that can kill another human being?”
The answers are varied, but they center on three main themes: freedom, self-defense and sport. The first type of response is rooted in the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, which allows for the ownership of more than 300 million guns in America. How many other countries have the right to bear arms written into their very foundation? It’s unique and because of that, foreigners often have trouble grasping it.
I meet Chris Styskal at a booth set up by the NRA Wine Club. Yes, a wine club for the almost 5 million members of the organization.
“Eat, sleep, go fishing. Drink, sleep, go shooting. In that order,” Styskal jokes.
But then we get into serious talk. Gun ownership, he tells me, has its roots in the birth of this country.
“George Washington’s army fought off the British with rifles,” he says. “They overthrew an oppressive government.”
His statement gives me pause. The gun laws in India stem from colonial rule, when the British aimed to quell their subjects by disarming them. Perhaps my Indian compatriots should consider the right to own guns from this perspective.
Styskal, 41, earned a degree in psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and tells me the prevailing belief that gun owners are not educated is simply wrong. He owns a collection of rifles and pistols at his home in Port Carbon, Pennsylvania, and last year he fired 100 rounds every week at a shooting range.
He says the Second Amendment is about much more than the right to bear arms. It’s about freedom.
“We don’t want any government telling us what we can and cannot do.”
It’s a thought echoed by Brickell “Brooke” Clark, otherwise known as the American Gun Chic. She has a website by that name and also a YouTube channel. Both are bathed in hues of pink and dedicated to her recently formed passion for guns.
I introduce myself to Clark as we await President Donald Trump’s arrival at the convention. The darkened room is booming with NRA clips bashing everyone from Hillary Clinton to George Clooney.
“What would you tell my friends in India who say Americans are infatuated with guns?”
“I wouldn’t say Americans have an obsession with guns,” Clark says. “We have an obsession with being free.”
I ask what the Second Amendment means to her.
“It means I can live my life without anyone overpowering me,” she says. “It makes me equal with everyone else.”
The great equalizer. I never thought of the Second Amendment in that way.
Self-protection, I discover, is a huge reason many Americans own firearms.
Take Chloe Morris. She was born in Atlanta to Filipino parents; on this day, she’s brought her mother along to hear Trump, the first sitting President to speak at an NRA convention since Ronald Reagan.
Morris is 35, petite and soft-spoken, but she’s fierce about her opinions on guns.
“I’m 5 feet tall and 100 pounds,” she tells me. “I cannot wait for a cop to come save me when I am threatened with rape or death.”
Morris was once opposed to guns. “Extremely opposed,” she says.
She earned a master’s degree in criminal justice from Georgia State University. “I know the law,” she says. “For me guns were not the answer.”
But a few years ago, a dear friend was assaulted in her own home in an upscale Atlanta subdivision. The incident struck fear in Morris. She would never let herself become a victim.
She took shooting classes and became a Glock instructor. “I teach for free. I want women to be safe.
“I own 10 guns. I have a 14-year-old son. I started teaching him to shoot when he was 5. I’m a lifetime member of the NRA.”
She pauses, and her next sentence surprises me.
“I don’t think I can even kill another person — except when my life is in danger.”
In a way, I understand her position. My first real exposure to guns came after I embedded with the US Army and Marines to report the Iraq War. As a journalist I never carried a weapon, though soldiers coaxed me to learn how to shoot an M16. My conversation with Morris reminded me of a night when we came under threat, and the platoon sergeant placed a 9mm pistol on my Humvee seat. I refused to take it but knew instantly what he was trying to tell me. What if I were the last one alive? How would I save myself?
Luckily, we were safe that night. But I’ve always wondered how I might have acted under a dreadful scenario.
Other NRA members I speak with also tell me they don’t trust the police to arrive in time when they are in danger. Scott Long, 55, lives out in the country in Piketon, Ohio — 25 miles away from the county sheriff.
“The police can’t be there all the time,” he says, looking at his wife, DeeDee, and their three young children, whom he’s brought along to the convention for a mini family vacation. Their son Brody, 9, has been shooting at the pellet range and is excited about his first 20-gauge shotgun.
“Where we live, we can shoot in our backyard,” says Long, who owns 25 guns and is enjoying checking out all the shiny new weapons exhibited here.
Such remoteness, too, is alien to me. I grew up in a city that now brims with some 16 million people on a working day. Firing guns in my grandfather’s garden would not have been a good thing. I think about all the space we have in America. So many of us live far from other human beings. Like the Long family. Perhaps isolation adds to the need to own guns.
I move forward in my quest to know more.
I hear gun proponents express a dislike for big government. They stress individual liberties over the collective. For people who live in more socialist countries, it’s another obstacle to understanding American gun culture.
Near a stairway emblazoned with a giant Beretta, I speak with Derrick Adams. He’s a 32-year-old electric lineman from Nottingham, Pennsylvania. He describes himself as part black, part Puerto Rican and part Caucasian.
“How many guns do you own?” I ask.
“Not enough,” he replies.
He picked up his first Glock when he was 22, and his first shot shattered a whole bunch of stereotypes.
“People look at guns as this evil tool whose job it is to kill,” he says. “They’re not at all that. They are about protection.”
Adams believes that if all law-abiding citizens were armed, crime would drastically go down. He tells me that Chicago would not have such a high gun homicide rate if good folks in the inner cities were armed to fight “thugs and gangs.”
“Stop looking to government to help us. They are not our parents,” Adams says.
Liberals in America who want more gun control, says Adams, want to keep minorities and poor people dependent on government. Gun control started after slavery ended and was a way to keep black people disarmed, he says.
“You idiots,” Adams says, referring to all people of color. “It was invented to suppress you.”
He looks at me as though to say: You should know better.
Again, I think of colonialism in my homeland and how the British passed strict gun control to keep Indians from rising up.
Fighting tyranny and oppression is something Jaasiel Rubeck considers, too. The 29-year-old wife and mother from Columbus, Ohio, immigrated to this country from her native Venezuela when she was 6. People who live under authoritarian regimes should all understand the need to own a gun, she tells me.
Rubeck’s words remind me of a friend from Iraq who wished she could own a gun during Saddam Hussein’s rule. After he was overthrown, she slept with an AK-47 under her pillow at the height of the insurgency. She has always spoken of her love-hate relationship with guns. She wants to protect her family, but she is tired of the eternal violence plaguing her land. She wishes now that every gun would disappear from Iraq.
What I hear from speakers at the NRA convention, though, is that a peaceful world is a utopian fantasy — and that the need for guns will always exist.
“The NRA saved the soul of America,” says Chris Cox, the executive director of the organization.
I leave the convention trying to reconcile what I’ve gathered on this day with the philosophy of nonviolence with which I was raised. I am not certain that vast cultural differences can be bridged in a few hours, but I am glad I got a glimpse into the world of guns. I have much to consider.

Donald Trump is first president to address the NRA in 34 years

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/donald-trump-president-address-nra-34-years/story?id=47080710

  • By MEGHAN KENEALLY

Apr 28, 2017

President Donald Trump is following in the footsteps of former President Ronald Reagan by speaking at a National Rifle Association event.

Today’s speech, at the NRA’s Leadership Forum in Atlanta, won’t be Trump’s first talk to the gun rights group. He was endorsed by the NRA in May and spoke at their convention at the time.

But his appearance later today marks the first time that a sitting president has addressed the group since Reagan did so in 1983.

The NRA is known for their sizable lobbying operation and by raising money for — and against — candidates. The group made over $52 million in donations to candidates during the 2016 election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. They spent $30.3 million in support of Trump, the CRP reported.

Trump campaigned on the pledge to support and protect the Second Amendment, which he said during his May NRA appearance, was “under a threat like never before.” He pointed to his then-rival Hillary Clinton as the basis for that threat.

“Hillary Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment, not change it; she wants to abolish it,” Trump said at the time, although Clinton had never made such claims.

“The Second Amendment is on the ballot in November. The only way to save our Second Amendment is to vote for a person you know: Donald Trump,” he said.

Trump has noted that his two eldest sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, have been longtime members of the NRA, and during the May speech, he said that “they have so many rifles and so many guns, even I get concerned.” 

During the second presidential debate, Trump promised to appoint Supreme Court justices that will “respect the Second Amendment and what it stands for and what it represents,” and said that the list of 20 judges that he released as possible picks all fit that bill. Judge Neil Gorsuch, who he later nominated and has since been appointed to the Supreme Court, was on that list.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that hundreds of protesters and gun control advocates are reportedly gathering near the convention site this morning. Part of the protest will feature a “die-in,” where 93 people will lie down in a local park to represent the number of people who die from gun violence every day, the paper reports.

There will be another protest on Saturday, and Rep. John Lewis of Georgia is scheduled to attend. Lewis and Trump have a turbulent history. Lewis did not attend the inauguration and said he did not see Trump as a “legitimate president.” Trump returned the favor by criticizing the civil rights leader, saying that he was “all talk, talk, talk — no action or results.”

Tell the Toledo Blade: Cancel Ted Nugent’s Appearance at your Festival

http://csgv.org/action/tell-toledo-blade-cancel-festival-appearance-ted-nugent/?subsource=fb

Ted NugentThe Toledo Blade newspaper is sponsoring a food and music festival in Maumee, Ohio this summer with a scheduled appearance by a known extremist: National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent.

In addition to being an adamant opponent of sensible gun laws, Nugent regularly makes headlines with his racist, misogynist, and threatening statements. In July 2013, Nugent said “The Black Problem” in America could be solved if African-Americans put their “heart and soul into being honest” and “law-abiding.” On January 17, 2014, he called President Barack Obama a “subhuman mongrel” and “chimpanzee.”1

Mike Mori, the Blade‘s sales director and event director for the Northwest Ohio Rib-Off, has acknowledged the problems with Nugent, saying he “is not a fan of [Nugent’s] politics.” “I wish the guy would just not say the things he does,” said Mori.  He clearly recognizes that the Blade made a bad call in hiring Nugent and seems torn about what to do. A strong show of opposition can sway him towards the right decision.

The Northwest Ohio Rib-Off webpage brags that “nothing goes better with savory BBQ than jamming, rib-bone in hand, to a rocking band.”2 Certainly, nothing goes worse with good food than the virulently racist rhetoric of a man who has no regard for the dignity or rights of others.

Tell the Toledo Blade: Cancel Ted Nugent’s appearance at your festival immediately.
___________________________________________________________

  1. Ted Nugent Profile,” Meet the NRA Leadership website
  2. 31st Northwest Ohio Rib-Off” webpage

Gun Lobbyist Kills Elephant In NRA-Sponsored NBC Sports Show

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/25/tony-makris-elephant_n_3989341.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

(VIDEO)

The Huffington Post  |  By  09/25/2013

The show, sponsored by the NRA, has aired on various networks in the past, but NBC Sports Network is now facing backlash for carrying newer episodes of the program.

In the video above, Makris, wearing the brown safari hat, can be seen tracking the elephant, taking aim and shooting it twice. The large animal trumpets, and Makris and his guide retreat to reload.

“Somebody got a little cheeky there,” he says, chuckling after the elephant stormed in their direction. Makris then raises his rifle up again and shoots it “between the eyes.”

In the next scene, he and his guide stand next to the dead elephant and talk about how they snuck right into its “bedroom” to kill it. The next clip shows the group sipping from champagne glasses, as the guide talks about the “special” act of bringing the elephant’s ivory back to camp.

As The Australian reports, the elephant hunt is completely legal, despite being controversial:

Controlled big game hunting still goes on in Africa and many reserves are set up by governments, who use money paid by rich safari hunters to fund broader conservation efforts. Elephant numbers in Botswana, however, have declined so greatly that a ban on hunting has been legislated. That ban won’t come into force until next year.

NBC Sports has since faced backlash on Twitter over their decision to air video of the safari, legal or not. A petition launched this week calls for the network to cancel the show. Another campaign at Causes.com has gotten around 5,000 signatures.

Makris, a legislative and PR strategist for the NRA, has quite the trophy case of controversial animals. A screenshot on the “Under Wild Skies” website shows him posing next two dead male lions. According to other show titles, he has also hunted rhinos, leopards and other elephants for the program.

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

ele-with-tusks-feature
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

HuntingTrophiesJamieKripke600

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.

ryanwax

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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