Friday, November 14, 2008

Barack Obama, guns, hunting and you

I wasn't planning to tackle this subject, but FS Huntress has inspired me - as she often does - to weigh in.

As you've probably heard, there's been a rush of gun sales since Barack Obama was elected on Nov. 4. Click here to see CNN's take on it.

Now, I take my gun rights pretty seriously, but this phenomenon just makes me giggle, and heres' why:

First, Barack Obama can't ban guns all by himself when he takes the oath on Jan. 20. It doesn't work that way. Legislation takes FOREVER to get through Congress. Hell, even the recent bailouts took a few days, and that was when we were in serious danger of terrifying economic collapse.

Don't get me wrong - I'm super happy for the gun retailers. Good for the economy, too. But seriously, folks, at least take the time to purchase wisely.

And second ... well, my second point isn't really a laughing matter.

Obama's positions on guns and hunting aren't funny at all. His views betray an ignorance that terrifies me, because I don't want to be that seriously misunderstood by people who have the power to restrict my rights and privileges or tax the hell out of the products I use.

And I don't buy his explanation about expressing himself poorly with that comment about folks clinging to guns and religion out of bitterness - I've traveled in liberal circles enough to recognize that as an authentic statement, not a tongue-tangle.

I also know that I would not have had to watch my back on guns and hunting - at least not as much - with McCain in the White House.

But that's a moot point. Here's what matters now:

Hunters and gun owners voted for Obama.

No, really.

Obviously not all of them, and I'm sure not even close to a majority of them. But as "Ricochet" author and former NRA lobbyist Richard Feldman told me this summer, there are 10 million gun owners in America who identify themselves as "liberal." And according to a 2006 Responsive Management survey, 11 percent of hunters and anglers identify themselves as "liberal." (Click on that chart to see it in detail.)

If you need further evidence that hunters voted for Obama, check out Rednecks for Obama, whose motto was, "We hunt, fish, drink beer and support Barack Obama." (Click here if you missed the San Francisco Chronicle story on them.)

Why does this matter? Because those people can now go to Barack Obama and say, "I own guns. I hunt. And I voted for you. Please allow me to tell you why guns and hunting are important to me."

And if you're one of those people, I hope that's what you'll do. If there's one thing I learned in a decade of covering politics as a newspaper reporter and editor, it's that politicians listen to those who voted for them. That's why politicians never, ever mess with seniors, who vote religiously, and why they don't spend much time, on the whole, on age 18-24 issues because - with the exception of last week - youth are notoriously lazy about voting.

I'll go one step further, though, and say that even if you're not one of those people, perhaps you should write a letter to Obama too. After all, he is our president-elect, regardless of whether all of us voted for him.

When I was a kid, my grandparents were inveterate presidential letter-writers, bombarding Richard Nixon with advice probably on a weekly basis. I was so inspired by them that I wrote him a letter too, when I was seven years old. It was filled with advice like, "Make new jobs and make new parks and above all, never lie." Seriously, I said that. I was a kid - I didn't know that lying was a key issue in Watergate. I thought Watergate was a dam.

I still have a copy of that letter, and the polite - and likely bemused - thank-you note from an aide typed on a small sheet of onion-skin paper with the presidential return address on it.

I always wanted to keep writing my presidents. But I never could, because news people have to take this vow of political silence in order to maintain an image - many would say a facade - of objectivity.

But I think I will now. And I hope you will too. Here's the address of Obama's Washington Senate office: Sen. Barack Obama, 713 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510.

Remember: One sincere letter from a constituent is worth hundreds, if not thousands, of identical postcards or web-generated letters that read exactly the same.

And remember:

Yes we can ... own guns and use them, ideally at the target range and, God forbid we should need it, in self-defense.

Yes we can ... hunt ducks and deer and hogs and all variety of wild creatures to provide local, organic, hormone- and antibiotic-free food for our tables.

Yes we can ... tell our new president the real reasons we cling to this lifestyle, which are ... oh, I'll let you fill in that blank yourself.

© Holly A. Heyser 2008


Anonymous said...

Well put.

Anonymous said...

I like others tend to shy away from political discussion because quite frankly I have better things to do than talk the talk.


I am not ashamed to say I voted for the other guy and I'm afraid in the long run we will be paying for our ignorance in voting Obama in as President.

Blessed said...

thank you for another excellent post and I think you've inspired me to do something I've never done before - write a letter to a politician.

Native said...

Good advise Holly go lightly!
I don't like the guy one single bit but, you have inspired me to write a letter explaining to him why I
"Cling to my gun's and my religion"

Josh said...

Great article, Ms. Cazadora. There is a movement afoot to move hunting and gun rights out of the right-wing. If successful, we could return to the more clear-eyed views of conservation that were espoused by TR, Aldo Leopold and others.
Check out this op-ed piece in High Country News for a similar perspective:

There are some moderate and conservative Democrats, like the Montana governor, who are gun rights folks. Let's help amplify the message that this needs to move beyond party.

Jesses Hunting And Outdoors said...

We're one martial law declaration away from having our guns taken.

Anybody that thinks the goobermint or Prez can't confiscate your guns is a fool. One only has to go back to Katrina when the local sheriff was shoving down and disarming elderly women who dared to arm themselves in their own homes.

As I type this SoCal is on fire and looting alerts are coming over the scanners and work radios. Good luck asking the looters to please stop. The Koreans had the answer to that nonsense during the King Riots.

Stay safe, stay armed.

Jesses Hunting And Outdoors said...

P.S. After some folks watched that debacle in New Orleans some states passed legislation saying citizens can't be disarmed during disasters.

LOL. That's what the 2nd amemdment is all about, or sposed to be about anyways, to those who have the sense to follow the constitution. That new legislation isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

As far as jumping into bed with Obama and the Klintonistas over gun rights, take a look at their past votes and statement on gun rights issues. Then tell us with a straight face they want to meet halfway.

HK_USP_45 said...

Great point, but I disagree with you. Obama is looking to use the Executive Order to get a lot of his agenda done early in the first 90 days. An EO takes effect immediately, and does not take the time you were discussing it would take to get through legislation.

Another important point -- his right hand man Rahm Emmanuelle is not just going to push a Ban as the Clintons did -- he's first off looking to confiscate guns -- something that cannot be undone like Clinton's ban. If he can't get that done, he's looking to make a Ban that would not have a twilight, as did the Clinton ban.

You also need to be scared as to what the definition is of guns that meet their ban guidelines. To them a semi-auto is any gun that doesn't require you to re-cock between shots. Revolvers and double barrel shotguns (Side-by-side and O/U) would fit into this category.

We also need to take into account that Obama isn't a politician of the same thread as the Clintons. They purely wanted power and were greedy -- so they pandered to whoever the needed to in order to get re-elected. Obama is a ideologue -- he cares more about his ideology than he does about legacy or his power (he only uses his power to get his agenda through). Hence why he associates with the radicals that he does. He certainly wouldn't associate with those people if he only cared to get elected. So he is going to do what he thinks is right -- ie. confiscate guns -- and not care whether he gets re-elected. Voters already set a precedence with him -- it doesn't matter what he says/does or who he hangs with, voters will vote for him.

The major means of communication for conservatives now is talk radio. So, much like what the military does when we go to war with a country, the left is going to take out our communication firs thing -- through the fairness doctrine.

You can call me paranoid or whatever you want -- and I hope I'm wrong -- but time will tell, and in a year from now people will read my post and either take it seriously, or look at this post as some paranoid kook. I HOPE I'm just a kook.

We should be afraid for our republic.

Native said...

Here Here!
I am with you on all points 45. The fairness doctrine will be worse than any Political Correctness agenda ever thought of being.

What is happening with Obama is the same thing that happened with Hitler,Mao,Stalin and all the rest, the youth got so wrapped up in the proposed "change" that they did not reaize what they got themselves into until it was too late.

SimplyOutdoors said...

*nods head*

I totally agree. Put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard and send a letter.

angesinclair said...

Pardon the length of this response - I realize I've gone on much longer than I intended to.
As a liberal reader of this blog, I realize that I fall into a somewhat unusual category, but having read other kind and sensitive discussions (ex: questions from a non-hunter), I feel that my 2 cents can be discussed by this group in an honest and thoughtful way. One fact: I voted for Barack Obama. I also come from a family and community of hunters, fishers, gardeners, and foragers, and I certainly support and believe in that lifestyle for all of the reasons I've heard expressed on this blog. However, I also worry about the state of gun violence in this country. I certainly don't have all of the answers or specifics, but I can believe that there could be a form of gun regulation that would ensure that the lifestyle of a sportsman or sportswoman would be unchanged, while having an impact on reducing gun violence in urban areas. I think we all want the same thing in the end - less guns in the hands of people who will use them to create violence, without trampling on the rights of responsible gun owners. A recent statement by Obama captures my sentiment on the issue, and I'll share it here: "We essentially have two realities, when it comes to guns, in this country. You've got the tradition of lawful gun ownership. It is very important for many Americans to be able to hunt, fish, take their kids out, teach them how to shoot. Then you've got the reality of 34 Chicago public school students who get shot down on the streets of Chicago. We can reconcile those two realities by making sure the Second Amendment is respected and that people are able to lawfully own guns, but that we also start cracking down on the kinds of abuses of firearms that we see on the streets." When I read statements like that, I don't see a cause for fear on the part of the responsible gun owners; I see a president who cares about both sides of the story, and pardon me for being corny, but that gives me hope.

Anonymous said...

I'm a liberal and a progressive, the type most of you would disdain unless, maybe, you met me and realized that so many of the stereotypes are just that -- generalities that have no bearing on the actual person and their beliefs. My father is a staunch GOP conservative and we manage to agree on many issues of education, of veterans affairs, of freedom of worship and separation of church and state and so forth.

That said, even I, a self-proclaimed bleeding-heart liberal believe in the 2nd Amendment. I personally don't like seeing humans or animals harmed by guns. I'm a Buddhist and our view of all life (non-human life included) tends to be different from Christian beliefs in this way.

But I'm also an American. And I believe in the sanctity of our Constitution. As one extremely liberal attorney friend of mine likes to say, it's one of the most beautiful documents ever constructed. I agree. Being "liberal" doesn't mean one desires a destruction of the ideals of the enlightenment that our forefathers bestowed on us by virtue of this document.

I've read all of the Federalist papers. I studied political science and read everything from Hobbes to Friedman. I understand the inherent dangers in stripping any of our Constitutional rights. In fact, you need look no further than very recent years to see how our various rights (such as 4th Amendment) have been incrementally taken in ostensibly conservative policies. Democrat or Republican, I disdain and fear the same elements of Constitutional ignorance that you do.

And in so saying, I feel comfortable right now with Obama in part because he is a Constitutional lawyer. (I'm registered as a decline-to-state so generally vote my conscience.)

He taught Constitutional law. For anyone who values their 2nd Amendment rights, I would think this would assuage some of the radical notions that have been mistakenly attributed to our new President.

Give the guy a chance before the fear sets in. I hope and believe that you'll be surprised by the fairness with which he governs. If he doesn't, I'll be one of the first to raise my voice. I always do when it comes to protecting our Constitution - the only thing we really have which safeguards ALL of our liberties, way beyond gun ownership.

Native said...

Excellent thoughts Foe and Angiesinclair.

Only, keep in mind that it was we Americans who had to air drop firearms into England so that the populace could protect themselves from Hitler's troops, After, English Parliament "removed firearms" from their very own people just a short couple of decades earlier!

I am more worried that we will be in just that very same position following Obama's doctrine.
And I for one, do not want to be defending my family with a single shot rifle, when we find ourselves facing an invading enemy.
This can easily happen when Obama tries to "Talk" to fanatical tyrants like "Chauvez" and others who share his sentiment towards the U.S. and all that we stand for.

I am very worried when we elect President's who have never served in the military because, these type individuals have historically proven themselves to lack the "discipline" and "Fortitude" needed to make strong decisions when confronted with forces bent upon the destruction of Freedom and Capitalism.

My wife and myself combined, currently give nearly 48% of our income to the Federal, Local and State governments.
Obama, has already stated that this is not enough! and that we must give more!
I have worked at hard labor ever since I was 12 years of age (now 50) and have done everything according to our Free and Capitalistic society's doctrine.
This person has spoken from his own lips, and I have heard him repeatedly say that he want's to take my, and all that have worked hard like myself, money and firearms away, and the very rights to enjoy the fruits of our labor for the past 200 years!

So, yes, I am afraid that he and the extreme left will carry out their extreme plan to "socialize" our country.
The very country which Men and Women have fought and died for in order to "Protect" the very freedoms which we currently enjoy.

And this, (more so than the privilege to hunt and fish) is why I fear that Obama and the extreme left will take away my right to bear arms!

Jesses Hunting And Outdoors said...

Just under half the nation DID NOT vote for Obama. Gun and ammo distributors had a run on their shelves the past 2 weeks. Many citizens see the writing on the wall and Obama for what he truly is.

Our Missouri native son Mark Twain said it best concerning a man's beliefs.

"You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, en I'll tell you what his 'pinions is."

Let's be honest, we all know where Obama is getting him corn porn now don't we?

Talk is cheap, I'll go with Obama's voting record and the statements he's made concerning guns and banning them.

To wit:

Holly Heyser said...

All right, folks, great discussion! Sorry to have been absent from it - been hunting all weekend (with nothing to show for it).

Couple thoughts:

First: Jesse, after Hurricane Katrina, Barack Obama actually supported the Vitter Amendment, which would have stripped all federal disaster relief funding from local governments that seize citizens' firearms in times of crisis.

Second: I'm not saying the government can't take my guns. I know the government - even in consultation with Congress - can take away a great deal. Hell, my country can now tap my personal email and phone calls overseas and even review the list of books I check out from the Library. Thanks, George Bush! Thanks, Congress!

I actually spend a lot of time thinking about how quickly we can lose that which matters to us, and how quickly society can forget about its freedoms. I spent a little time in a former Soviet state in '94 (Estonia) and saw a whole generation that did not know how to exercise control over its institutions. Only the old who remembered democratic freedom and the young who could imagine it really knew what to do with it.

But I also know how politics works, and I know politicians have to be awfully careful. I was once talking about abortion with a good friend of mine who used to work for Karl Rove, and she said, "Holly, there's no way in hell the Republicans want to overturn Roe v. Wade because it would be a disaster." She was saying they knew the result would be a massive revolt.

And she was talking about taking away a right, not a gun. Does anyone not think that Democrats are aware that taking away guns would spark a revolt among people who own guns and are willing to use them? This gets to the core of the 2nd Amendment, which I do not believe is about hunting or personal protection, but rather about defense against any potential tyranny.

I'm not saying it can't happen. Obviously, human history is filled with stories of dictatorship and tyranny. I'm just saying that there are political realities and practical issues that make taking away your guns much harder than some people would like to think.

Finally: I honestly think it's just bull-headed to suggest that gun owners must march in political lockstep. And if you're gonna throw all your eggs in one basket, do you really want it to be the basket that has just lost most of its power? What I'm saying is we need political diversity in our ranks, now more than ever.

The Democrats who are now in power are going to dismiss conservative tirades on this subjects as hysterical rants. But I'm pretty sure they're not going to consider someone like Angie here hysterical. People like Angie are now our ambassadors to the people who are in power. We can crap on people like Angie and dismiss them as naive, or we can be glad that someone in our ranks will be heard. That's what I'm talking about.

And whether y'all like it or not, Obama's our next president. We can sit here and complain about it, or we can start writing letters and making our views known to our representatives in Washington.

Holly Heyser said...

That's fine, Jesse.

But Obama's gonna be our president for the next four years. What are you going to do to try to ensure your rights are not eroded or taken away?

Albert A Rasch said...

Howdy All!

Holly, well put. I'm going to sit my big rear end down and write President Elect Obama a well thought out note. No I didn't vote for him, but I can write to him and tell him exactly how I think about certain things.

It is what we have been talking about for a long time. If you are not going to take concrete steps - ie: take kids shooting, fishing, camping; write to your Congressmen and Senators, Vice President, and President; join the NRA - then you ain't doin' squat!

So go do something!

Albert A Rasch
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Native said...

I am writing Mr. Obama as you read this and everyone should take the time to express your (civil) opinions to him.

Just as your paycheck reflects your comfort and satisfaction level if you do not ask for a raise.
If we do not make our concerns known to our politicians it will be assumed that all is well and that we are happy.

Holly Heyser said...


Albert also hit a bulls-eye with the notion of mentoring the next generation of hunters and joining the NRA or another organization that will fight for your gun and hunting rights.

Anonymous said...

I might get flamed for this but I'll take a chance. The inherent problem with any of these discussions is that they ignore the great probability that all of us -- me on the left, and you on the right -- are ultimately tools in the political game. The GOP effectively manipulates hard working people into believing that the party actually has their interests at heart. The Democrats manipulate the left into believing that this time, there really will be a move toward more fair playing field for everyone, that the American dream will be everyone's to realize. But the money is so entrenched and with the exception of a few Congressional stalwarts who have never given in to this particular corruption, nothing much changes. (Just take a look at the 30-year tables which show how very little changes in the way of taxes between Democrat and Republican administrations. It's a percentage point or two - literally.)

The reality which is often too desperately hard to swallow is that, the real conflict isn't between me the liberal and you the conservative. It's an economic chasm that basically renders us all subject to the system that frankly, doesn't reward any of us but the most affluent. I'd highly recommend anything by Greg Palast, or most recently byHerve Kempf, his book "How the Rich Are Destroying the Earth" which is about the decimation of our beautiful natural habitat, and which speaks to an overarching ethic that permeates all transactions on both left and right. '

Me, personally, the most viable things I fight for in this life are, as we've discussed, retaining some semblance of our rights. And then, protecting what's left of this planet that we all share and all stand to lose. Because ultimately, we are the ones who lose while someone else literally makes a profit on our loss. This holds true for civil liberties as well.

Holly Heyser said...

Nah, no flames here!

But I do think there's more sincerity than that in politics. I've met a great many lawmakers on the left and right who truly do care about people and feel a sense of stewardship over the cities, states and nation they govern.

I also know that, come election time, it is all about manipulating the public to achieve power. And I know voters like to believe they think independently about candidates, but in reality, most think what they're told to think. That's why campaigns are so expensive - marketing like that ain't cheap.

Ultimately, I think the truth of the situation lies between these two views, because they're not mutually exclusive.

Langdon Cook said...

Economic meltdown. Iraq. Rising health care costs. Iran. Climate change. North Korea. Did I mention economic meltdown? Call me crazy, but something tells me banning guns won't be high on Obama's list when he takes office.