Tuesday, March 18, 2008

New Pro-Gun Group?

American Hunters and Shooters Association, a thinly disguised anti-gun group?

It's been out there for a number of years but just discovered by Jeff Birnbaum of the Washington Post.

I've copied pretty heavily from the Washington Post article written by Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, but I wanted to cut out the fluff and get right to the meat of the article.

Remember, Hillary Clinton says she once hunted for ducks and Obama is for REASONABLE gun control.

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New Pro-Gun Group Hopes to Draw From the NRA

The American Hunters and Shooters Association is the latest organization to try to dethrone the NRA as chief spokesman for people who care about guns. The association positions itself as an NRA alternative, a group that likes guns and those who shoot them but believes the NRA is too absolutist, especially when it comes to opposing almost any curb on the right to bear arms.

The NRA is extreme," says Ray Schoenke, the former Washington Redskins lineman and failed Democratic candidate for governor of Maryland who is president of the American Hunters and Shooters Association.

As proof of his gun-toting credentials, Schoenke says he likes nothing better than heading to Maryland's Eastern Shore and shooting a duck, then cleaning it, cooking it and eating it. "I own guns," he boasts. "I have guns everywhere."

Schoenke hopes this macho, carnivorous image will make pro-gun voters more open to accepting "common sense" limits on gun buying. Such changes can't be so bad, he wants gunners to say, if fellow enthusiasts also support them.

The NRA also asserts that Schoenke's association is a thinly veiled front for gun-control advocates, and offers as proof Schoenke's $5,000 donation to Handgun Control Inc., predecessor to the main anti-gun lobby, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Schoenke rejects the assertion; he says he was only trying to help a cause important to his wife.

Unfortunately for Schoenke, the Brady Campaign basically agrees with the NRA. "I see our issues as complementary to theirs," Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign, says about Schoenke's association. "They're a positive group."

Helmke even contends that the two organizations are not far apart in approach. Helmke says he, too, shot guns as a boy and is as Middle American as he can be -- a former Republican mayor of Fort Wayne, Ind. "The Brady Campaign is not just East Coast liberal Democrats," he says.

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