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Using Legal Hunting To Obscure The Facts About Gun Violence

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Article first appeared at NRAmedia.org

NRAmedia – As law-abiding gun owners, we are accustomed to being attacked from many different directions by those who dislike the Second Amendment—and who dislike us for practicing our right to keep and bear arms.

One good example is the way anti-gunners lump many different kinds of deaths into the category of “gun violence,” ratcheting up their alleged “gun violence” toll in an attempt to garner support for their cause. For instance, their figures include suicide—an unspeakable tragedy to be sure, but not the cold-blooded murders most think of when they hear the term “gun violence.” They also include in their total firearm accidents, which are at an all-time low and also don’t fit most people’s “gun violence” definition. Heck, they even include criminals killed in legitimate self-defense shootings—both by law enforcement officers and private citizens.

Now a couple of animal-rights nuts have come up with a scheme to ratchet up “gun violence” numbers even further—and you might just be one of the criminal perpetrators they are targeting.

Writing for the Huffington Post in an op-ed headlined, “The Victims of Gun Violence Politicians Won’t Talk About,” New York University law student Jay Shooster and Rockwell Schwartz, a recent graduate of Vassar College, want to add all animals legally harvested by hunters to the “gun violence” category. [Criminal] violence has nothing to do with law-abiding gun owners—and nothing to do with hunters or America’s long-standing hunting tradition.

Lamenting a closely-controlled deer hunt—yes, you heard that right, deer hunt—on the Vassar College campus, designed to manage the deer population at a healthy level, Shooster and Schwartz lament:

“A shooting is happening right now at Vassar College. It is the fourth the campus has seen in the past six years. Over 115 have already been killed, their blood spilled on the college fields. Yet it’s unlikely you’ve heard anything about it. The national media remains silent; not even the local news has covered the grieving families or lost friends. No candlelight vigils, no memorials, no communal mourning, as the victims remain unidentified and seemingly forgotten.”

If that’s not dramatic enough for you, they continue on from there:

What’s happening at Vassar College should be shocking, but similar shootings have been largely ignored across the country. The annual death toll climbs well into the millions, yet there is no accurate record of the casualties. Why? Because the victims were born as members of the wrong species.”

The two argue that in the national discussion on “gun violence,” the most numerous victims—animals, in their opinion—are completely left out of the conversation.

“For every human life taken by a gun, hundreds, if not thousands, of non-human lives have also been taken,” they write. “Yet for these victims, gun control advocates not only erase their deaths, but also actively promote and protect the killings. We fail to label the unnecessary killing of animals as gun violence, and instead we euphemize and romanticize it as ‘sportsmanship.’”

They conclude: “There is absolutely nothing to ‘respect’ about the unnecessary killing of animals. There is nothing wholesome about shooting individuals who want to be free from harm. Hunting is gun violence, and it’s time we start acting like it.”

I’ve got to give them credit—by painting hunting with the broad brush of “gun violence,” Shooster and Schwartz have managed to attack both our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms and America’s hunting heritage in one fell swoop. And they’re wrong on both counts.

So-called “gun violence”—more correctly called “violent crime”—isn’t perpetrated by hunters any more than it is by law-abiding gun owners. Violent crime is, and has always been, committed by violent criminals—the very people who ignore all gun laws and who have nothing to do with our hunting heritage.

  • By the way, here’s a few things the anti-hunting duo didn’t mention about legal hunting:
  • All wildlife conservation in America—even for species that are not hunted—is funded almost entirely by hunters through license and tag fees, and by hunters and shooters through federal excise tax on guns and equipment.
  • America’s hunters and anglers are an important economic force, directly supporting 1.6 million jobs, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). They spend more than a billion dollars each year just on licenses, stamps, tags and permits. And they generate $25 billion a year in federal, state and local taxes.
  • Without hunters, wildlife populations—including the widely abundant white-tailed deer that Shooster and Schwartz lament—would overpopulate, leading to devastated habitat, more car collisions and death by starvation.
  • Hunters, through several programs throughout the nation, donate hundreds of thousands of pounds of venison to the needy each year.
  • In 1900, only 500,000 white-tailed deer remained in the United States. Thanks to conservation work spearheaded by hunters and hunters’ dollars, scientists now estimate the population at about 30 million.

Fact is, the average American hunter does more for white-tailed deer conservation—through tags, fees, taxes and harvest—than Shooster and Schwartz can ever accomplish by waving their arms and screaming “gun violence” whenever a deer management hunt is held.

Criminal violence is a serious problem, especially in some of America’s larger inner cities. But such violence has nothing to do with law-abiding gun owners—and nothing to do with hunters or America’s long-standing hunting tradition.

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