"Jeez, Bane! What's the big deal here? Hunting, shooting, we're all on the same side. I don't see what you're so worked up about..."That deserves an answer, or at least my taking a shot (so to speak) at an answer.
The firearms industry's obsessive focus on hunting, as opposed to shooting, activities causes damage to the gun culture, RKBA issues and us individually as shooters because:
1) It limits the number of new participants coming into the gun culture to people who want to hunt, as opposed to just shoot. This is bad because we are locked in a game of numbers — the more people we have on our side, the easier it becomes to defend our rights. For the amount of money flowing into hunter recruitment and retention programs right now, we could easily recruit 10X that number into the shooting sports! You do the math — which puts us in a stronger position nationally, 1 million new hunters or 10 million sport shooters?
2) It ignores the larger, much more important goal of "normalizing" the use and ownership of firearms in a desperate effort to prop up revenues in hunting-related industries. Hunting is declining and has been declining for a decade or more, a reflection of four "megatrends" — increasing suburbanization of previously rural land; the social acceptance of broader liability responsibilities; the on-going assault on leisure time coupled with a much, much larger selection of activities to fill the shrinking leisure time and, finally, a "realignment" of the basic family unit that has shifted much of young people's leisure time activities to peer groups and away from inner family activities. Blunt trauma recruitment and retention efforts are mostly focused on creating more hunting consumers to keep fueling a large industry. That's all well and good. However, our social problem is not that there aren't enough people buying stuff, but that our enemies have succeeded in demonizing firearms ownership and use. The focus of our industry-wide effort should be "hearts and minds" as well as consumers. I see very little of that happening, even within the recruitment and retention establishment.
3) Taxation without representation is tyranny. It was when James Otis said it before the Revolutionary War; it still is. The Pittman-Robinson excise tax on all firearms and ammunition generates billions of dollars, which goes for land conservation, wildlife management and repopulation and hunter recruitment and retention...I'm not against any of those things. HOWEVER, why has not one penny of thhis tax gone to any other shooting activity? And why do fish and wildlife people go pale when anyone brings this fact up? The Pittman-Robinson money is the 800-pound gorilla hiding behind the curtain!
4) The hunting-only focus has clouded the more urgent political issues. Look at John Kerry running around capping anything he could find during the election, or Bill Clinton proclaiming long and loud how he loved to whack the occasional Daffy Duck. The left-wing spinners know the public at large can be confused on this issue, because we're often confused on this issue. Show me a Democrat who is "anti-hunting," and I'll have him canned and distributed as tuna. But our fight is not, never has been, and never will be about duck hunting!
5) The shooting sports and self-defense/tactical shooting are booming despite benign ignorance, but they need help at a national level. Here's how I view it — the shooting sports are the key, the shoehorn, to a hearts and mind program to make a major change in the national mindset. The self-defense/tactical emerging market is the rock upon which a lasting change in the national mindset is going to be made. But these emerging markets need help in marketing, in their own recruitment and retention efforts and in buildiing a solid infrastructure. None of that is happening right now.
If you think back to the 1950s, the image of a gunowner/gun user was a sportsman...a white. middle-aged man tramping the game fields with a shotgun slung over his shoulder and a dog at his heels. It captured our imagination then, and I understand the urge to make that image real again. But if we are going to succeed in undoing decades of antigun propaganda, we need more than an image of a man/woman, white/black/Hispanic/Asian tramping the game fields with a shotgun over his/her shoulder. We need the image of a professional woman with a CCW handgun in her purse; an Olympic athlete holding a shotgun, rifle, or pistol; a tactical trainer teaching Americans how to defend themselves; a practical competitor pushing the limits of what is possible with a firearm; the mile-long line of shotgun competitors at the Grand; the majesty of Camp Perry; the hard-core realism of Gunsite and Valhalla and Blackwater and, yes, a sportsperson tramping the game fields.
Hunting is no more the future of shooting than bicycling is the future of shooting.
SHOOTING is the future of shooting.
And I suspect that if the people lead, the leaders will follow...however reluctantly.