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May 23, 2018

Dan Ashe is Back


By Larry Keane

You may remember Dan Ashe. He was the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director during the Obama administration. He issued a last-minute order banning traditional ammunition for hunting on federal lands without scientific input or comment as the Obama administration was leaving office.

The move ran counter to all norms of rule-making, even for Washington D.C. these days. The National Shooting Sports Foundation called foul on the ban and new Secretary of the Department of Interior Ryan Zinke rolled it back on his first day on the job. A Congressional investigation said the edict was politically-driven and did not serve any conservation-ended purpose.

Leader of the Pack

Well, Dan Ashe is at it again and this time he’s leading a small posse of like-minded outdoor writers. He recently put his name as the top signer on an “open letter” to the liberal Huffington Post with a 10-point gun control plan he said all true hunters can get behind. Except, like his last-minute order, it’s a mistaken pursuit.

Ashe et al propose gun bans for young adults, diminishing due-rights processes, prohibiting sales of semiautomatic firearms, banning the transfer of firearms between even family members and, of course universal background checks (without defining what that is) and repealing the Dickey Amendment.

He and the writers claim this is all necessary to preserve hunting traditions because hunting is on the decline, and according to him, gun ownership in America is on the brink.

Encouraging New Hunters

Ashe should know that if he’s worried about growing the next generation of hunters, denying them Constitutionally-protected rights and placing barriers between them and elder mentors to take them into the woods and fields isn’t the answer. Instead, we need to reduce barriers to hunting, and that means empowering parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to teach the next generation proper marksmanship, woods craft and conservation. That doesn’t happen by requiring background checks when a father hands a rifle to his daughter.

Ashe should know, too, that banning semiautomatic firearms isn’t going to earn him an invite to duck blind. Semiautomatic firearm technology is more than 100 years old and is preferred by many hunters to allow for quick follow-up, ensuring ethical harvest and no loss of game. Certainly, he’s not purposely conflating automatic with semiautomatic. That’s not knowing your target and hunters don’t do that.

It’s the Cartridge, not the Rifle

And Ashe and company clearly don’t care to understand modern sporting rifles in all their variations. These firearms can be chambered for calibers well suited for hunting everything from squirrels to elk. But Ashe, being a hunter, certainly knows that it’s the cartridge that’s matched to the game you hunt. The rifle platform comes down to hunter preference, and more hunters are choosing the ergonomic features and utility of the modern sporting rifle.

And, once again, Ashe skimped a bit on his research. If he was correct about gun violence studies, then the Centers for Disease Control has been breaking the law. Except he didn’t read the rule correctly. CDC has been allowed this research all along. Even Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y. admitted as much. Even he didn’t have to hunt for that answer.

You may also be interested in: Let’s Not Follow Mexico’s Gun Control Example