In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), 31 of the most influential organizations in the outdoors expressed their concern over restrictions to gun ownership. The list of signatories includes many prominent groups, including:

Archery Trade Association
Boone and Crockett Club
Campfire Club of America
Catch-A-Dream Foundation
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
Conservation Force
Dallas Safari Club
Delta Waterfowl
Masters of Foxhounds
Mule Deer Foundation
National Rifle Association
National Shooting Sports Foundation
National Trappers Association
National Wild Turkey Federation
North American Bear Foundation
North American Grouse Partnership
Orion, The Hunter’s Institute
Pheasants Forever
Pope & Young Club
Quail Forever
Quality Deer Management Association
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Ruffed Grouse Society
Safari Club International
Texas Wildlife Association
U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance
Whitetails Unlimited
Wild Sheep Foundation
Wildlife Forever
Wildlife Management Institute
Wildlife Mississippi

The letter addresses the issue of tragic shootings such as the one that occurred in Newtown, and mentioned five things that the organizations support:

  • Improvements to the already-existing National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)
  • Strict enforcement of existing firearm laws
  • Changes to the treatment of the mentally ill
  • Improved security in schools
  • Community-based “family watch” programs that seek to deal with potential problems before they occur

Beyond these five points, the organizations oppose any “unnecessary restrictions” to the procurement and possession of firearms. The letter states that those restrictions had “no foundation in addressing the factors that led to this tragedy or like tragedies” and furthermore will impact an industry that adds billions to the national economy. According to the letter, shooting sports participants contributed $5.4 billion to the conservation of America’s wildlife and hunter education system since 1991. This “user pays-public benefits” partnership provides the country with what is internationally viewed as one of the most successful conservation programs in the world.

The letter also reports that roughly 98,752 people are employed by the firearm industry, which produced $31.84 billion in 2012 alone.

Senator Reid is currently heading up a gun control package colloquially referred to as a “universal background check” measure, building off a bill by Senator Chuck Shumer (D-NY). Many gun owners’ associations and hunting advocates oppose this proposal due to its intrusion on private transfers. According to Safari Club International (SCI), Senator Shumer’s bill could make a number of transfers illegal, including:

  • Lending a friend a firearm on public land
  • A student taking temporary possession of a firearm in a hunter safety class outside the range
  • Lending a firearm to a friend in any location where hunting is not permitted, such as a suburban neighborhood
  • Inspecting a gun at a convention or trade show
In an email with Outdoor Hub, SCI President John Whipple further elaborated their position on the issue, stating that, “Anti-gun legislation always has unintended consequences, and we were also concerned about the potential impact that bills calling for ‘universal background checks’ could have had on our convention–making it illegal to even hand a gun to a customer for them to see how it fits.”

Another group opposing the proposal is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who the Daily Caller reports as having “serious concerns” with the bill. A spokesman for the group states that the ACLU is concerned that the bill will threaten both privacy and civil liberties.

You can read the letter here in its entirety, courtesy of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action.

Image from Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on the flickr Creative Commons

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