Something of a revolt is brewing among some Evergreen State hunters who are concerned that their interests are being ignored by Sen. Maria Cantwell, and they are chatting it up today, as they have been for several days, on the Hunting-Washington forum.
At least one member of the popular Evergreen State hunting forum corresponded with Cantwell about the so-called “Sportsmen’s Act,” and after getting a reply, posted this message on the group’s website:
“There seems to be an anti-hunting / anti-gun tone to her response; I suspect she will not support this bill. Keep that in mind when it’s time to VOTE. We should all communicate to the entire committee since our senator does not appear to be supportive of hunters or hunting; she needs to be out-voted by other members of the committee.”
That member, Jim Goldsmith, who goes by the nickname “jshunt” and is a Hunting-Washington moderator, was particularly alarmed at one paragraph in Cantwell’s reply to his letter asking her to support and perhaps even co-sponsor the legislation, introduced by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Here’s what Cantwell wrote:
“Any legislation, which would increase the risk of gun-related accidents or poaching within our federal public lands and national parks, must demonstrate a clear need or purpose. While I know that recreational use and collection of guns for hunting, sport, and other activities is extremely important to many law-abiding Washingtonians, we must ensure that our public lands and national parks are safe for all visitors. Please be assured I will keep your thoughts in mind should I have the opportunity to consider this legislation in the future.”—Senator Maria Cantwell
Cantwell also said in her letter, “Our coasts and open spaces are areas where many priorities, including hunting and fishing, interact and can conflict with one another, especially where space is limited. I believe these areas are precious resources and that protection of these areas is essential for the collective benefit of current and future generations.”
Hunters look at this and wonder, “Where did that come from? Gun-related accidents? Poaching?” They see these as manufactured issues to excuse a vote that only solidifies the image of Cantwell as an anti-gunner, and Democrats as the “Party of Gun Control.”
Washington is hardly unique in this regard. Hunters and gun owners in California, New York and other states also feel abandoned by their elected officials, if not downright betrayed.
According to Murkowski’s website, here are the major tenets of the Sportsmen’s Act:
- The Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act, which protects the public’s right to engage in recreational hunting, fishing and shooting on federal land.
- The Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act, which enables the Secretary of the Interior to authorize any state to issue electronic duck stamps.
- The Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Protection Act, which excludes ammunition and fishing tackle from the Toxic Substances Control Act and leaves decisions about tackle to state fish and game agencies and the USFWS.
- Bows Transported through National Parks, which allows bows to be transported across national park lands. Currently, firearms can be legally transported, but not bows.
The concept is similar to legislation introduced in the House and discussed in Monday’s edition of “Bullet Points,” a weekly on-line publication of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. That measure, HR 2799, the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, was unveiled last week by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus.
Cantwell and Washington’s other senator, Patty Murray, are both Democrats and they have anti-gun-rights voting records. Both get “F” ratings from gun rights groups, as this column noted in March.
This begs the questions: Who speaks for Washington’s gun owners and hunters on Capitol Hill? Where is their voice when they cannot depend on their own two senators to act in their interests? When will Cantwell and Murray stop ignoring the concerns of hundreds of thousands of their constituents?
So far as these hunters are concerned, they must depend upon senators from other states to represent their views, a situation they consider deplorable and embarrassing.