THE BLOG
08/21/2008 10:33 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

AHSA exposes NRA support for Members of Congress with worst records on conservation

Today, the American Hunters and Shooters Association (AHSA) released a report, "Slash and Burn: Why Does the National Rifle Association Leadership Support Congress's Biggest Opponents of Conservation?" and an accompanying website: www.realhuntersrealconservation.com.

Our goal is to pull back the curtain on the ugly truth: The leaders of the National Rifle Association, who have long claimed to represent hunters and shooters, have instead overwhelmingly supported the biggest conservation opponents in Congress. We want America's 70 million gun owners, most of whom, like me, consider themselves conservationists, the opportunity to learn about the NRA's dismal record on conservation.

With research from the League of Conservation Voters and the assistance of former Congressman Pete McCloskey, we launched this effort today. In 2006, Rep. McCloskey recently worked to unseat one of the NRA's leadership's favorite anti-conservation critters, now former Congressman, Jim Pombo. Given Pombo's terrible record on conservation issues, McCloskey said that for the NRA to have give Pombo any money was "an outrage."

As the self-proclaimed "largest pro-hunting organization in the world," the National Rifle Association has long claimed to represent America's hunters and shooters in the fight to protect one of America's oldest traditions. The NRA's bylaws include an article setting a core goal "to promote and defend hunting...as a viable and necessary method of fostering the propagation, growth and conservation...of our renewable wildlife resources." But it turns out that its by-laws are just empty rhetoric.

AHSA's report reveals an ugly truth: The NRA's leadership is spending its members' money to support the campaigns of the biggest conservation opponents in Congress. Contrary to its stated goals and assurances to the hunting community, our unprecedented analysis shows that NRA's leadership overwhelming supports Members of Congress with the worst conservation voting records.

The NRA's campaign contributions, endorsements and ratings of Members of Congress expose the organization's strong anti-conservation bias. Despite their lofty bylaws and forest friendly taglines, the NRA is standing by silently as its allies in Congress are helping to destroy America's wilderness.

Hunting is an American tradition that depends on conserving America's wilderness and wildlife. To fully enjoy our rights and heritage, hunters and shooters deserve leadership that will protect our guns and our land. America's hunters are beginning to ask whether anyone in Washington recognizes that.

The American Hunters and Shooters Association, unlike the NRA, is dedicated both to protecting the gun rights of Americans and preserving America's hunting heritage through conservation and responsible wildlife management. We understand the crucial relationship between protecting our rights as gun owners and protecting the lands we love.

For the three million NRA Members who are tired of seeing their $25 dollar contributions wasted by an NRA leadership supporting anti-conservation Members of Congress and Wayne LaPierre's $900,000 salary, we offer a different choice. And, for 77 million gun-owning Americans who are not Members of NRA, we invite you to join an organization that is steadfast in protecting our Second Amendment rights, conserving our environment, and will support common sense efforts to keep guns away from criminals.

America's hunters and shooters should no longer stand by the NRA because it's clear the NRA has long stopped standing up for them. And by the way, I don't fly on private jets and my salary is a dollar a year. I can also outshoot Wayne LaPierre and I'll gladly challenge to him a wild hunt. That's a challenge I look forward to, but I won't hold my breath that he'll ever take it.