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September 07, 2006

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Meet the American Hunters and Shooters Association

If you haven’t heard of the American Hunters and Shooters Association (www.huntersandshooters.org) let me introduce you. The AHSA is an organization in its formative stages, and claims to be a viable alternative to the NRA which, it says, has alienated hunters and shooters by its boorish political tactics, unwillingness to compromise, and refusal to support conservation in any meaningful way.

A trip to the AHSA website is enlightening. If you read it closely, you’ll see that there is not much substance to what the AHSA says it stands for. There are no concrete positions, or action plans, except that they want to restore the right of residents of Washington, D.C. to own handguns. (Why Washington, D.C.? They never say.) Mostly, their position statements are vapid, along the lines of “Don’t push old ladies into moving traffic. Don’t set stray dogs on fire.”

The conservation part of their platform is more interesting. They claim that the NRA has done hunters a huge disservice by not supporting politicians who are conservationists. Well, it’s no secret that for years, the NRA has supported the very worst timber torturers, stream stranglers, oil oligarchs, strip-mine groupies, and range rapers, provided that their heads were right on guns. The worst knuckle-draggers and cave dwellers have gotten A’s on the NRA report card if they voted right on gun issues. And there is a reason for this.

The movers and shakers behind the gun control movement are relentless, implacable, and uncompromising in their eventual aim, which is to get rid of all guns. They are as extreme in their views as the most fanatic NRA members are in theirs. I don’t see how it’s possible to hate machines, but career anti-gunners hate guns to the very depths of their souls. Mostly, I think, they hate gun owners as well.

You do not successfully oppose such people by compromising, or by forgetting what your main goal is. And in this the NRA is no different than any other highly successful Washington lobby. There are special-interest groups that are slicker in their approach, but their tactics do not differ notably.

So who is the AHSA, really? The group’s leaders are a puzzle. The website doesn’t say whether they were appointed (and if so, by whom?), elected (since the AHSA has nearly no membership, this would be a problem), or rule by divine right. In addition, every one has been involved in one way or another with an organization that is generally considered anti-gun. For example:

The Founding President is Ray Schoenke, a former player with the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins. Mr. Schoenke is apparently a successful businessman and a hunter and shooter of wide experience. However, according to Chris W. Cox, NRA-ILA Executive Director, Schoekne donated $5,000 to Handgun Control, Inc. (HCI), in 2000, and contributions were also made to HCI by the Ray and Holly Schoenke Foundation.

There is no vice president, but the Executive Director is Bob Ricker, who is identified on the site as a long-time advocate for the shooting industry. But Mr. Ricker apparently had a change of heart somewhere, and now works for the other side. In a sworn deposition (this is again from Chris Cox) given on Sept. 27, 2005, in New York City’s suit against the gun industry, Ricker stated that his “biggest” client was the Educational Fund to End Handgun Violence, and that another group he represents is Virginians for Public Safety, also an anti-gun group. Mr. Ricker stated that the AHSA is a client of his, and that he gets $3,000 per month to represent it.

John E. Rosenthal is President of the AHSA Foundation, and is the head of a Massachusetts group called Stop Handgun Violence. He is also a former member of the board of directors of Handgun Control, Inc.

Joseph J. Vince, Jr. is identified as a member of the ASHA Board of Directors. (The website does not say how many directors there are.) Mr. Vince is a former employee of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and currently runs a firm called Crime Guns Solutions, LLC, which analyzes and obtains information on firearms used in crime.

Jody Powell is the Co-Chairman of the AHSA Advisory Board. Mr. Powell was press secretary for President Jimmy Carter, whose administration managed to be both rabidly anti-gun and anti-hunting at the same time.

Right now, the AHSA is just beginning. According to Executive Director Bob Ricker, they intend work slowly and patiently and do most of their membership solicitation by mail, for which they have just raised the money.

The cost of joining the AHSA is $25. They may be what they say they are, and in any event, guilt by association is wicked and un-American. But as for me, I’d rather send $25 to the NRA and hope they siphon it to some of the cave dwellers and timber torturers and stream stranglers. I’d like to keep my guns, thanks very much.


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JA Demko

Trust no one.


As a Conservationist I would trust this new “Hunting” organization about as far as I could toss one of my horses. However, its formation bears forth the problems with the NRA representing Conservationists. From my experience working eight-years in NY Conservation Councils and Committees, the downside of NRA Policies is as you write, DP.

The NRA does good work, but it’s not the final and complete say. Indeed, I’ve observed the NRA often follows State Conservationists’ and Shooters’ movements, if support is given at all... Often the NRA follows its own very narrow agenda which often is in conflict to individual States. E.g.:

1. Open Space Program—Lack luster NRA support because it’s basically a Democratic Program. NRA turning its back on hunting access.

2. Assault Weapons Ban—No NYS support to oppose assault weapons bans.

3. Ban on Lead—Big issue with NYS Sportsmen. NO NRA support forthcoming to oppose.

4. NRA Politic Support/Endorsement of state political candidates often at odds with local sportsmen, NRA’s primary criteria for support/endorsement seemingly depends if candidate is Republican and Pro-NRA.

I’ve the sentiment individual state movements and actions in conservation and shooting are much more relevant and important. Unfortunately, these issues between the NRA and individual State Conservationists and Shooters are seen as a potential weak spot to be exploited by charlatans claiming to be hunters. I don’t know what the final answer is to be, yet its too dangerous for State folks to allow the NRA be the only voice and representation of their outdoor and shooting interests. Oddly, most NY Conservationists are NRA life members, like myself.

BTY- Conservationists are hunters, angular, and outdoors people. Environmentalists want to lock everything away from access.


I know now why I sent in my NRA renewal today plus a little tad extra..:-]

Ralph the Rifleman

Thanks for the info Dave, and yes, I have sent in my NRA dues in with a little "extra" for their legal fund, too.


I agree the NRA does many things right for gun owners. I don't care much for Wayne LaPierre. He comes across a pompous windbag. But I'll take him over Schumer, Feinstein, Kennedy and the rest of the tree hugging, gun hating bunch in Washington any day.


I actually contacted the AHSA after I read this post to ask them to clarify their mission since their leadership is comprised of anti's. Will post their response when/if I get one.

Off Topic - where's Peter Mathiesen? Is the gear-hound in the dog-house?


I checked AHSA's domain address on whois.domaintools.com and they also had a domain name of "americansforsocialsecurity.com"...this is a left leaning group!!!


John Rosenthal, President of AHSA, is notorious among Massachusetts gun owners for sponsoring a series of enormous billboards near Fenway Park, blaming guns and gun owners for all of society's ills. His latest mendacious billboard blames lax gun laws in adjoining states for Boston's inner city murder rate. THIS is the president of a gun-friendly organization? Sure, and Sarah Brady is running for the NRA Board of Directors!


Personally, I am writing my twenty-five dollar check to the AHSA as we speak.

You know there are quite a few of us so called "left wingers" out there who hunt and fish. However, I guess--as I have been told many times--that if I don't agree with every position that the NRA takes, then I don't deserve to own guns or hunt.

These divide and conquer tactics will eventually result in two things: 1)no guns, and 2) no hunting.

You know it might be more productive to find common ground and work to protect we what we all hold dear. But then I guess that wouldn't please the NRA. And we all know that you don't want to p### of the NRA.

Take care


Garrick........do what you feel you must.....but know this.....I am NO fan of the new NRA run by the pompous blowhard Lapierre. BUT the fact is AHSA is run by rabid anti gunners that somehow believe that GUNS(and those of us that enjoy them) are to blame for all of the worlds ills.....NOT the people......this very idiotic view WILL destroy this nation and all her freedoms (The few we have left)

Facts bear out it is NOT the guns causing the strife in this country (and the world) but the idiot PEOPLE. It just seems easier for a few "Stick our head in the sand" types to blame guns instead of identifying the TRUE problem(s) and then set out to fix them.

Or more like.........its the socialist agenda we are once again seeing in plain view.

JA Demko

FTR "anti-gun" and "socialist" are not synonyms. If you look around the world, you'll find governments all over the political compass that do not permit their citizens the freedom of firearms ownership we have here in the US.
The simple right-left dichotomy doesn't adequately or accurately describe either an individual's politics or those of a government.

http://www.politicalcompass.org/ is a place where they're making an effort to come up with something more accurate and useful. See where you fit in. See if the politicians you support are actually what they call themselves.


I am sick of the "you are either with us or against us" mantra that has become all too prevalent in America.

I think that all law abiding Americans should be able to own whatever firearms they choose; provided they are willing to use these weapons in a responsible and mature manor.

Howevever, as I am sure most of us who post here are aware: Not all Americans behave in a responsible or mature way. Just the other day, I was in a local sporting goods store and a man and woman who obviously lacked any fundamental firearms training were in the process of purchasing two hand canons for "home protection." They were mishandling the weapons and saying things along the lines of, "how pretty the big one was." What do you think the odds of these people obtaining proper training or storing these weapons correctly is?


Thanks for showin the true side of the AHSA i will definatley be renewing my NRA membership this December. I think we can put both the AHSA and the WHA in the same category of their hurting us and dont even know it

craig curtis

thank you for shedding some light on the antis tactics. yes the NRA is focused and if they werent rest assured their opponents are and would lobby their way to no gun fun land !! if you need to help in conservation issues go to your local front line fighters and let the NRA fight the big guns in DC. lobbying (spell check) washington is all out do or die and weve got some of the best protecting our firearm freedoms ! thank god for the NRA and thank you david please keep exposing the rats in this country who will decieve us all to achieve a new happy place with no guns !!! from my cold DEAD HANDS

Guy Miller

The NRA is far from perfect, but they're the best show in town at what they do. That is to be single-minded about protecting our 2nd amendment rights. They probably don't come to the aid of every worthwhile group that deserves support because they have finite resources and must choose their battles wisely. I was glad to see another post that differentiated between environmentalists and conservationists. Teddy Roosevelt was a conservationist. Al Gore is an environmentalist. The difference is plain.


All I know is that while wetlands are bulldozed, forests are cut, and streams are made fishless - all in the name of "progress," - gun rights seem comparatively safe and sound. I see your point Mr. Petzal, but I don't see anybody coming up with solutions to the destruction of habitat. And I'm POSITIVE that screeching about gun rights isn't conserving anything, except maybe your readership.



There is no "common ground". The bottom line is this - at any given time over the last 30 years, 97% of the anti-gun and anti-hunting bills in this country have been sponsored by Democrats. TAKE THE TIME, DO THE RESEARCH.

JA Demko

"97% of the anti-gun and anti-hunting bills in this country have been sponsored by Democrats"

Let's stipulate, for a moment, that this is true. Does that make the Republicans our friends or only the lesser of two evils?
It is my opinion that the Republicans and the Democrats are moral equivalents. It isn't that the Republicans want you to keep your gun; it's that they just don't care whether you have it or not. They know that even if there are hundreds of millions of guns in the US, such a vanishingly small percentage of gun owners would actually do anything WRT overthrowing a tyranical government that the guns in civilian hands really don't matter. The tiny handful that might actually do something can easily be marginalized socially and handled by local LE. No confiscations, no blue helmets, none of that paranoid nonsense. The Republicans are quite happy to have us all sitting on our fat asses, sure that We Are Free Men Because We Own Guns. They know the guns are no more dangerous to them than a toddler's blankey... they just make us feel more secure when we hold them. The Elephant Party has our number just as sure as the Donkey Party knows how to play their traditonal voting blocs.


JA Demko,

What's your point? That gun owners vote Republican as a bloc the same way that various liberal blocs vote Democrat? Okay, everyone here agrees with that. The fact is that the Democrats, as a whole, have never provided a single incentive for gun owners vote for them because everytime they're in power we get waiting periods and "assult weapons" bans. If a bunch of gun owners throw their support behind Democrats and help the Donkey party gain power, we'll just get more gun control. This doesn't happen with Republican's in power. That's not rationally disputable. Based on the fact that the "assult weapons" ban was allowed to sunset, lawsuits holding manufacturers liable for the crimes of individuals are now banned, and the federal government is not fighting against concealed carry laws at the state level the way HUD did under Andrew Cuomo in the Clinton years, our support of the Republican Party has clearly paid off on the gun issue.

As outdoorsman, we would be much better off to use our considerable clout within the Republican party to to begin an internal campaign to preserve and promote habitate growth rather then become silent or defect to the Democrats. We're always more powerful when we're fully engaged. The strategy should be to work within the Republican party remaining vigilant on the gun issue while opening a second front on habitat. Fighting the corporate energy interests within the Republican Party won't be easy, but we'll get much more bang for the buck this way then by trying to convince the Democrats to not pursue gun control again should they regain power. Cynicism is easy; we must be pragmatic.

JA Demko

Voting for the Elephant because they present themselves as "the gun friendly party" isn't pragmatism. It's getting played for a sucker.
How many of those evil Donkey gun laws has the Elephant repealed? How many executive orders has the Elephant rescinded? The Republicans are generally content to let the Democrats do the heavy lifting and pass all the gun laws. They're also content to leave them in place.
The Republicans are statist control freaks every bit as much as the Democrats. They just have a slightly different strategy on guns. The Republicans will let you keep yours so that you will believe yourself a free man. Don't think Orwell. Think Huxley. As long as they get to be in control, they don't mind doing it by keeping you entertained, fat, and deluded that having that AR-15 in your closet makes them any less in control.
Forget the environment and guns for a moment. Now ask yourself whether either Donkeys or Elephants are really all about freedom.


JA Demko:

Aside from venting your fustration with the Republican and Democratic parties, what's your point? We have two main goals as outdoorsmen and shooters: preserve our 2nd amendment rights and conserve our habitat. What exactly are you proposing as a realistic solution?

I don't think anyone finds either party perfect and I think we can all agree you have to watch politicians of any stripe very closely. The issue is which one better represents our interests. As gun owners the Democrats clearly do not, so why would we support them? Why would we be better off with them in power? It would seem to me we are better off using our clout within the Republican party to open a second front and push them toward habitat conservation by making our voices heard on that issue as much as we have made ourselves heard on guns. We should also reach out to other conservation/environmental groups and work with them on habitat issues. We don't all have to agree on guns in order to unite behind conservation. The key to competing with the energy interests is building strength in numbers to influence policy.

Your posts convey nothing more than hopeless negativism with healthy doses of name calling and bitterness thrown in. I'd be interested to hear any realistic solutions you may propose. Disengagment resulting from cynicism gets us nowhere.

JA Demko

Third Party. As long as we continue to believe that it MUST be either the Democrats or the Republicans, it will be. FTR, I'd like you to point out a specific instance of the name calling of which you accuse me in this thread.


For name calling examples look no further than your classy exchanges with Greg Russell, following Dave's own ode to respect concerning the late Steve Irwin. You and Gregory were so pleasant to one another that we all thought you were in love. Not that I am in any way defending Greg, or sad to hear him say he'll no longer enlighten us with his wisdom on this blog.

Anyway, your idea is for a Third Party. I like that idea and will certainly consider supporting another party, depending what their views are of course, but I don't see any realistic third parties on the horizon. The Reform Party, for example, was a disaster. My point is that we have to be pragmatic and consider where we'll get the best bang for our buck amoung the realistc options. If we disengage from the process due to cynicism and disgust, we lose our clout with the Republicans and risk two things: 1) Democrats coming to power and renewing their fight against our 2nd Amendment rights, and 2) the energy interests run rough shod (even more than they already seem to be) over the Republicans and we lose more habitat. We're better off with republicans in control, we just need to open that second front.

I'm done. The last word is yours.

JA Demko

"You and Gregory were so pleasant to one another that we all thought you were in love."

Do I detect a note of jealousy?

JA Demko

"For name calling examples look no further than your classy exchanges with Greg Russell"

I'm sorry, Rob, I guess I did't understand your post upthread. I was under the impression that you were discussing what I said about Republican v. Democrat v Third Party in this thread. Certainly, I did refer to Greg as a "loveable windbag" in another thread. What that has to do with this discussion you'll have to clarify for me.
In any case, there will never be a viable third party if we all just sit around waiting for one to magically appear and vote Elephant or Donkey while we wait. That's a fact.

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