by Karen Mehall Phillips - Wednesday, September 13, 2017
“Technology has given us an unprecedented opportunity to fight for hunting the way we always have fought for the Second Amendment. No longer held captive by the biased mainstream media, we’ve launched NRA Hunting—complete with a social media campaign and NRATV ads—all designed to reinforce the NRA’s 24/7 political and legislative efforts already in progress.”
—Wayne LaPierre, NRA EVP and CEO
Armed with hatred in the absence of facts, animal-welfare extremists in the 21st century—led by groups such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and PETA—are stepping up their culture war on American hunters through increasingly vicious acts and deceitful tactics to advance their agenda to exterminate all hunting. Today they attack, shame and ridicule us on social media; infiltrate our government, courts and law schools; and manipulate highly charged emotions—exacerbated by misinformed media—to keep us from doing what is best for wildlife. Fortunately, when it comes to fighting for American hunters and our all-American hunting traditions, no organization is a more seasoned wartime veteran than the NRA as it ramps up its influence and membership clout to win by doing what it does best: drawing a line in the sand and taking the fight to the enemy in the public domain. As for how it will get from Point A to Point B, experience shows the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Enter the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum (HLF) and the NRA’s new hunting initiative—NRA Hunting—complete with a website and nine 60-second campaign ads all housed on NRATV.
Defending hunting has always been part of the NRA mission. It simply was overshadowed by the more prevalent fight to defend the Second Amendment—until now. Animal welfare extremist groups, now funded to the tune of $1 billion a year, can no longer be dismissed as the fringe organizations of 30 years ago. So the NRA is fighting for hunting the same way it fights for the Second Amendment: like a political campaign, or, in NRA terminology, a 24/7 job as it seizes control of the conversation and motivates sportsmen to respond by touting the truth about hunting and the hypocrisy and ignorance of those who seek to destroy it.
“Our NRA Hunting initiative will change the dialogue,” said NRA EVP and CEO Wayne LaPierre, referring to campaigns such as NRA—Freedom’s Safest Place. “We must stop hunters from being ashamed and infuse this generation of young people already leaning our way. The thematic NRA Hunting platform and integral message ‘Trust the Hunter in Your Blood’ will be the foundation of everything we do as we fight and win this battle.”
LaPierre unveiled the NRA Hunting initiative and campaign ads on NRATV at the annual gathering of the NRA-HLF during the NRA Annual Meetings in April. Here were influential hunters worldwide, all passionate about protecting hunting’s future. From NRA President Pete Brownell of Brownell’s and HLF co-chairs—NRA 1st Vice President and racing Hall-of-Famer Richard Childress and NRA Women’s Leadership Forum Executive Committee member and Houston Safari Club past president Melanie Pepper—to keynote speaker Donald Trump Jr. and hunting industry innovators such as Brenda and Larry Potterfield—co-founders of Midway USA and recipients of the 2017 NRA Golden Bullseye Pioneer of the Year Award—attendees were in great company.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in more than three decades in Washington, D.C., it’s that well-funded extremist groups enabled by an agenda-driven media can put up a substantial fight, so we must reclaim the narrative,” said LaPierre. “The antis are deliberately misinforming those in the middle, and the only group with the ability to stop them is the National Rifle Association. With our numbers, our network and our dedication, we can stop this attack. This is why we need the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum. Together we will win this fight.”
As I scanned the room, I was thankful for hunters of such power and influence. But I realized their overriding common denominator was more fundamental—a commitment to do what is right, to put their donor money where their mouth is, to stand with NRA to save hunting’s future.
From extremist groups like ringleader HSUS (called out repeatedly for fraudulent fundraising) with a global network of other extremist groups now under its umbrella—to groups like PETA, which takes in a whopping $30 million annually on its own, the other side is in it for the long haul as these groups work their black magic to deceive an unwary public. For proof, look at the national furor global extremist groups incited over “Cecil the lion.” The fight isn’t about lions, ivory, semi-autos or anything else. It’s about shutting down hunting altogether. Wonder how far these groups will go? PETA was just busted for a fake computer-generated, animal abuse video—a low in scams even for PETA. And, as reported by NRA Hunting and NRA-HLF, in the words of one of HSUS’ most prominent radical leaders, Princeton professor Peter Singer, “The life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog or a chimpanzee.” To save hunting, we must grasp the scope of the threat.
“We’re fighting a culture war, and if we lose sight of that we’ll lose,” said NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox. “You cannot negotiate with those who are only satisfied with your utter destruction.” And he’s right. The antis’ extremist agenda is clear. “As we share NRA Hunting’s message, we can have different ideas and opinions, but we cannot have different ideas on what we are trying to achieve,” added Cox.
So with NRAHunting.com and the “Trust the Hunter in Your Blood”-themed NRATV ads, the NRA begins its mission to save hunting. All we hunters have to do is share the material across our social media platforms. Tap into NRA Hunting ads such as “We Are Hunters,” which shows even the strictest vegan would turn to the wild if necessary. Share “The Hunter’s Table,” which touts that fresh, chemical-free meat—the essence of today’s farm-to-table food culture—is what hunters have eaten for centuries. Tout “The Animal Rights Dream” showcasing the antis’ attempts to suppress humans’ most natural connection to the earth and ignore that death is life’s unwavering partner.
“Only the NRA has the backbone and the will to take on the vocal and often violent anti-hunting extremists,” said Josh Powell, lifelong hunter, NRA chief of staff and Executive Director of NRA General Operations. “These zealots are determined to brainwash future generations into believing that hunters are evil and that animals have more rights than humans. NRA Hunting exposes their radical agenda while reaching out to those who are neutral or unaware of the facts—people who, like us, care about wildlife and support hunting once we engage them.”
While few of us have the financial means of an NRA-HLF member, remember the NRA is built from the bottom up—not the top down. The efforts of NRA leadership only go so far if the rest of us don’t do our part to invest in hunting’s future. Our collective efforts to share NRA Hunting’s message is what will define our success.
Losing this fight is not an option. History shows us that when hunting is shut down, wildlife suffers as funding for wildlife management disappears. The NRA Hunting campaign will turn the tide.
“We have a collective responsibility to fight back,” said NRA President Pete Brownell. “If we leave this fight to the next generation it will be too late.” We can complain amongst ourselves and avoid offending the antis—even as groups like the HSUS and PETA try to indoctrinate our children—or we can take control of the conversation. In the meantime, we will continue to hunt in the proud knowledge that our dollars are what fund wildlife conservation—amassing $1.1 billion in 2016 alone.
Clearly, the NRA is set to lead the fight to the finish. Yes, the animal-rights extremists obfuscate the facts and seek our utter destruction. But our strength of character is stronger than their strength in numbers. Come to think of it, so are our numbers. So as we hunters collectively make that beeline from Point A to Point B with strength of purpose, remember the words of Wayne LaPierre: “It’s about freedom.” And don’t you feel just that much better knowing the NRA is invested in the fight?
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