NRA’s Battle to Save the Future of Hunting

posted on September 7, 2023
Photo courtesy NSSF

The National Rifle Association does more to fight for the rights of hunters than any other pro-hunting organization on the planet. And the battle to save the sport—a lifelong tradition for many—is fought on many fronts.

Before jumping into some of the things that the NRA is doing for hunters, note that the Association’s Hunters’ Leadership Forum (NRA-HLF) is committed to the fight and has a website that is regularly updated with new stories.

The award-winning online NRA Hunter Education course, launched in 2017, has provided nearly 150,000 students with online hunter education at zero cost. At the same time, this online course is an important means of generating interest in hunting and in increasing the number of new hunters and new shooters across the country.

“The NRA developed this free online course with one main goal in mind: to make it easier for new hunters to get into the field,” said Joseph DeBergalis, NRA executive director General Operations. “NRA has been and will continue to be the leader in providing the very best hunter education and training in the country.”

Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia all accept NRA Hunter Education as a prerequisite for receiving a hunting license. 

One of the ways anti-hunters are attempting to reduce the number of hunters is to push for lead ammunition bans, especially on publicly owned lands; in fact, the NRA has been involved in this fight for decades, and for good reason—ban proponents simply don’t have scientific evidence demonstrating a population impact caused by using traditional ammunition.

Last year, the NRA joined with Safari Club International (SCI) and the Sportsman’s Alliance Foundation to file a brief to intervene in the lawsuit National Wildlife Refuge Association v. Haaland, which is being heard in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The case revolves around a proposed ban on lead ammo in the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge in West Virginia.

At about the same time, a California court handed the NRA a major win in another lead ammo ban lawsuit. In Center for Biological Diversity v. United States Forest Service, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed with defendants, including the NRA, that the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is not violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) by allowing hunters to use lead ammo on the Kaibab National Forest in Arizona.

With everyone from those in the Biden administration to anti-hunters in several states, including California, Maine and Minnesota, continuing to push bans on traditional ammunition, the NRA stands firm on its commitment to protect hunters.

Another issue is Sunday hunting. While Sunday hunting bans have largely been rescinded along with other “blue” laws, NRA continues to battle such bans in states like Maine and Massachusetts, and on some properties in several other states. Just last year, an NRA-supported measure finally put an end to the longstanding Sunday hunting ban in Virginia, greatly increasing hunting opportunities in the commonwealth.

As the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) has pointed out in the past, many hunters have weekday jobs and tight family schedules, leaving them only weekends to enjoy their favorite pastime. Banning hunting on Sundays effectively cuts that opportunity in half.

The contentious issue of wolf management has also been an ongoing battle; in fact, the NRA has been involved in the wolf debate for nearly two decades, standing with hunters and supporting wildlife science and legal, regulated hunting as a wildlife management tool.

The NRA has taken part in numerous battles in courtrooms and federal and state legislatures in an attempt to ensure wolf populations are managed in a sound, scientific manner instead of based on the “feelings” of anti-hunters and their political allies.

With the Biden administration recently launching a full-scale attack on the future of hunting, it’s evident that hunters need the NRA on their side more now than ever before. The administration recently began blocking federal funding earmarked under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 for schools with hunting and archery programs.

“This is another clear example of an anti-gun, anti-hunting administration abusing a law filled with undefined and overly broad provisions to push its radical agenda,” said Randy Kozuch, NRA-ILA executive director. “The Biden Administration is once again demonstrating an alarming readiness to take this power as far as they desire.”

This backdoor effort to kill hunter recruitment is being countered by NRA-backed federal legislation designed to clarify the BSCA language and restore funding. 

Of course, there is much more that we can’t cover in the limited scope of this article, like the NRA’s ongoing lobbying efforts on behalf of hunters at the federal and state levels and the behind-the-scenes work to halt attempts to lock up federal lands, thereby limiting hunting opportunity. And, of course, the NRA’s continued, decades-long fight against bans on all manners of guns—including hunting firearms—commonly rolled into proposed “assault weapons” bans.

The Second Amendment is about far more than hunting, but in the end, hunters having a strong force like the NRA on their side is critical for this time-honored way of life to continue to be passed down from generation to generation.


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