When it comes to asserting the rights of animals, the end truly justifies the means for the animal rights lobby, and their minions in Congress and state legislatures across the country. This phenomenon has been on stark display in the United States House of Representatives and in the California Senate over the last 30 days:
Some of My Best Friends are Hunters
On April 17th, the U.S. House passed the most significant piece of pro-sportsmen legislation in 15 years, as HR 4089 was approved 274-189. Although the vote included 39 Democrats, a group of their left-leaning colleagues led the charge to gut the bill through a series of amendments. The most disgusting part of this maneuver was to see several of them profess their love and admiration for hunting and fishing prior to proposing amendments that would neuter the very hunting, fishing and shooting protections that HR 4089 provides.
Protection for Dead Animals
Now that the bill is in the Senate, the anti-hunting lobby has stepped up their assault with a series of outright lies. Contrary to all of the hot air, HR 4089 does not remove protections for polar bears. It simply allows the importation of the bears that were killed before the ban was implemented. Likewise, the Sportsmen Heritage Act does not allow drilling, mining, or off-road vehicle use on public land. It is strictly about hunting, fishing and recreational shooting.
Corroborating a Story…What a Pain!
That anti-hunting groups would lie to support their cause is no surprise, but it is truly frustrating to see reports in the media; even the outdoor media, in which these falsehoods about HR 4089 are given credence. In this case the language is really quite simple. There is plain language, for instance, clarifying that HR 4089 does not authorize or facilitate commodity development, use, or extraction or motorized recreational access or use.
Lawmakers Knowing the Law…That’s an Awful Lot to Ask
In California, more than six hundred hunters packed the corridors of the state capitol to watch a hearing on SB 1221, which would ban black bear and bobcat hunting with hounds. Opponents of the bill topped out at perhaps one hundred. The Senate Natural Resources Committee was not impressed, as the bill was approved by a 5-3 margin, along party lines with Democrats supplying the yes votes and Republicans voting no.
The hearing was purely for show. In fact, so far the entire process has left California sportsmen doubting that their opinions matter at all. It has been virtually impossible for any hunter to get a direct meeting with their Senator.
Despite the deluge of outright lies told by anti-hunting groups, two sportsmen were given a mere 3 minutes each to speak. It seems that Senators on the committee were not interested in hearing a full rebuttal and an explanation of how hunting with hounds really works.
Some of them were not interested in the facts either. Committee Chair, Fran Pavley, stated that she was voting for the bill because she objected to the use of GPS collars on dogs on the hunt. GPS collars are already illegal.
A Fair Shake is All Sportsmen Ask
For years the sportsmen’s community has told hunters and anglers that we need to get out there and tell our story. That we cannot rely on others to know the facts when issues arise. In this case however, sportsmen have been telling their story. There has been a comprehensive campaign, by 39 national sportsmen’s organizations, providing information about HR 4089.
In California, sportsmen have poured telephone calls into their senators opposing SB 1221. In addition to the incredible showing of opposition at the first hearing, more than 200 hunters packed a subsequent hearing on the bill before the Senate Appropriations Committee. Opponents numbered three. The bill passed over their objections by a 5-2 margin, once again along party lines. The bill is now headed for the full Senate for a vote.
What’s needed now is for members of the legislature, and the media, to listen to and read their story; and learn the facts.
Sportsmen will not give up in their efforts to defeat SB 1221 in California, or in their support for HR 4089 in Washington DC. They will continue to write letters, call their Congressmen, and pack hearing rooms.
And they will take note of who supported their right to hunt, fish, trap and shoot in their hour of need.