Washington Report – For Every Step Forward…

– Update –

Hunters are making progress in the nation’s capital this month, but strong crosswinds are blowing. Even while the Congress is moving forward with the top SCI legislative priority – the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act, designated in the Senate as S. 405 – Obama administration bureaucrats are lobbing new regulations at hunters’ guns and ammunition.

First, the good news. The U.S. Senate is moving out smartly with consideration of S. 405.   Hearings have already been held in two Senate committees, with the majority of witnesses testifying in support of the bill. Representing the scant opposition to the bill was none other than Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS.)   Pacelle attempted to mollify the Senators by starting off with an outright lie, claiming that HSUS “is not opposed to hunting.” This statement came despite the group’s lengthy record of working to ban hunting at both the state and federal level, and Pacelle’s own remarks to the contrary.

But the members of the panel would not be so easily fooled. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) zeroed in on the group’s deceptive fundraising tactics. He noted that the Oklahoma Attorney general initiated an investigation of HSUS for running TV ads dedicated to fundraising in the wake of a natural disaster. The HSUS ads strongly imply that donations would be used in local efforts to assist displaced animals, but in reality the group kept more than 90% of the funds raised for other purposes.   This investigation is ongoing, and comes on the heels of a recent judgment of $15 million dollars that HSUS was forced to pay to settle a lawsuit brought against them under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law – the same statute most often used in prosecutions against mafia figures. Pacelle spent most of his time sputtering in defense of his group’s conduct, and his statement of opposition to the bill was largely ignored. (next steps.) Now is a good time to call both your U.S. Senators and u8rge them to support S. 405. All Senate offices can be reached through the Senate switchboard at 202/224-3121.

And in older news, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has now “withdrawn” its proposal to ban military surplus “green tip” rifle ammunition in .223. The proposed ban blew up in ATF’s face, when it received Congressional letters signed by a majority of members, and more than 300,000 comments from the public, in opposition. The details of this proposal are convoluted, but suffice it to say that the justification that ATF cited to ban the “green tip” ammo could have been used to ban every rifle round on the market – and they still might. The proposal has merely been withdrawn on a temporary basis, and could be revived at any time. If so, hunters will be dragged into a pitched battle between the Congress and the White House. And no one should take comfort from the news that ATF Director B. Todd Jones resigned in the wake of this debacle – he stepped down to accept a lucrative offer from the National Football League in what was most likely a long-planned maneuver. Now, the White House will have to put forward a new nominee to fill the position, who could very well be even more dedicated to attacking hunters’ rights.

Only one thing is certain – your SCI Washington team will have its hand full for the foreseeable future. Watch this space for updates.

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