Dear Uncle Joe:
I’m a hunter, but like you guys I am anti-NRA. I feel they are part of the problem responsible gun owners are facing and without fighting them we’re not going to enhance wildlife conservation nor will we see a reduction in gun violence.

First of all, the NRA doesn’t speak for hunters. Only about half of NRA members hunt and a smaller percentage of hunters are NRA members. Many NRA members are gun accumulators not collectors, or “ammosexuals,” as I heard one anti-hunter call them. That is a humorous description that I agree with. I use my gun as a tool to obtain food and for personal protection should I need it. I practice my marksmanship and don’t see a need to own more than the 4 tools I have that I uses for different hunting situations and to defend my home.

You’d be shocked (or maybe you wouldn’t) by how many gun owners don’t spend time at the range or have any degree of proficiency with the firearms they use, but it is my responsibility as a gun user, and one I take seriously, to be as trained and as safe as I can be. I respect what guns can do and I do not treat them like toys.
There’s a common misunderstanding that because I hunt I must be a card-carrying, flag-waving member of the NRA. I’m not, and I know a lot of hunters who also lack respect for the NRA.

What troubles me is the NRA’s propaganda that tells everyone more guns are the solution to everything. We don’t need more guns, we need more responsible gun owners. The NRA doesn’t care if you’re responsible with your guns or not, all they care about is if you send in your membership dues and vote republican.

Not every hunter is a bad person, and not all of us eat NRA propaganda as if it were manna. Many of us, myself included, believe we need responsible gun control laws that can protect both public safety and the rights we have as Americans.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this other than to say that neither myself nor the guys I hunt with are the enemies of wildlife or public safety. You’re wrong to paint us all with the same broad brush. There are hunters and NRA members who are menaces, but the problem is not hunting and guns, it’s untrained and unintelligent people who hunt and own guns. Putting your hatred of hunting aside I’d be happy to hear how you would address the nation’s problem with gun violence.

Gallup, NM

Dear Jacob,
Thanks for writing. I don’t think it’s possible to completely separate hunting from gun violence because what hunting does is reinforce the notion that some lives are expendable, and that killing can make things better. We obviously don’t believe that. There are different kinds of gun owners just as there are different kinds of animal advocates. The person who shoots clays is different from the guy who collects antiques and the guy who shoots coyotes (and then shoots rabbits because there are “too many of them”). Not all gun owners are violent people, they are just frightened, and we don’t paint gun owners with a broad brush. The NRA is a polarizing group for sure, and we are well aware that the majority of hunters are not NRA members for many reasons. But hunters need to step up and make their voices heard where they believe the NRA is doing gun owners a disservice. You guys also need to speak up and explain why you feel the NRA isn’t serving the best interests of hunters. As you know, the NRA has a lot of influence inside the Washington Beltway and to break the chokehold they have on so many members of Congress will take gun-owning conservatives like you to step up and demand change.

You sound like someone who might be able to understand the pro-wildlife, anti-violence message that we and other organizations promote. We encourage you to keep reading our website and our facebook page and to contact us whenever you have a question.
Uncle Joe
Dear CASH –
You communists hate America and the freedoms we fought for. I’m an combat veteran, I served in Iraq because I love my country and I’m not laying down my guns because you (homophobic slur deleted) want us all to turn into vegetarians who are afraid of offending anyone. I hunt and fish and the Louisiana constitution says its my right to do it. I don’t know why you people won’t mind your own business and stay in the city where you belong.
Monroe, LA

Dear Thomas,
I’m sure being in combat was frightening and stressful to a level few civilians have ever experienced. You may likely have felt that terrible feeling that you were being hunted by people who wanted to kill you, and I am sure you have lost close friends to the violence of bombs and guns. I am in no way minimizing what you’ve been through.
Wildlife are also the victims of guns and explosives. They experience terror and will always live their lives under the constant threat of being killed despite never having done anything to anyone. They are not willing participants in the “sport” that could likely maim or kill them, and the violence brought upon them is not a response to any major problems like terrorism, genocide, or human rights abuses. Please think about how killing them serves no purpose.

Saying that we hate the freedoms you fought for is ridiculous. We indeed hate hunting and hope to see those currently legal privileges taken away. Our goal is to see humane and reasonable solutions to wildlife conflicts implemented so that whatever challenges are faced could be addressed without anyone having to lose his/her life over them.
Uncle Joe
Dear Uncle Joe:
I recently read that Kenya is considering making the death penalty available to prosecutors who catch poachers targeting rhinos and elephants. Shouldn’t they have done this long ago and do you think it will stop people from poaching?
Unionville, NY

Dear Laurie,
Aside from opening a debate over whether or not the death penalty is ethically just, I will say that the decision made by Kenyan officials to consider the death penalty for poachers shows that not only do they value their native wildlife, but also that they understand the serious crime that poaching is. Kenya is also increasing the number of wildlife crime prosecutors to more swiftly deal with suspects, ensuring that more are brought to justice and fewer fall through the cracks in the system.

There are other issues as well that affect wildlife, just as in the United States, habitat is being fragmented and destroyed by human encroachment, including the building of roads, livestock production, and crop cultivation.
But poaching in the USA needs to be taken far more seriously. Unless federal law is being broken, American poachers can expect a slap on the wrist and a stern warning, but little more than that. While there have been cases of poachers receiving lengthy jail sentences, those are the exceptions rather than the rule.
It’s good to see at least one nation taking wildlife protection seriously.
Uncle Joe


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