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Last week, I asked who is the real enemy in camouflage?  My answer was simple. It’s the leadership of the National Rifle Association.  That post generated a great discussion here on DailyKos – and resulted in my first diary rescue, which I greatly appreciate.

The NRA’s political operation obviously monitors what progressive gun owners are discussing on Kos because, in predictable fashion, Wayne LaPierre and his right wing attack dogs have wasted no time in trying to hit back at the American Hunters and Shooters Association (AHSA) and me.  But, once again, their laughable attack only proves that AHSA’s fearless defense of the true interests of Missouri sportsmen -- protecting our public land from Jim Talent and the Bush Administration’s attempt to sell off the Mark Twain National Forest -- was a stunning defeat for NRA in Missouri.

And remember, NRA rarely acknowledges defeat. That’s why they lead off their attack on AHSA with references to old wins in the 1994 congressional elections and Bush’s win in 2000 despite his having lost the popular vote.  However, the NRA attack dogs fail to mention that Democrats did take back the Senate in 2000 by defeating pro-NRA candidates in Washington, Missouri, Michigan, Delaware and Florida.

NRA likes it reputation as the big 800lb political gorilla, yet the long list of NRA supported congressional incumbents who bit the dust in 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2004 clearly set the stage for the 2006 Democratic come back. NRA has reason to be concerned about holding on to power.

Of course, what the NRA calls "AHSA’s lies" is what was actually AHSA exposing the NRA’s complete failure to stand up for America’s hunting and shooting heritage. AHSA is not afraid to support policy makers who believe in conservation, access to public lands and doing something about global warming- American values held dear by a majority of hunters and shooters.

I gladly stand by AHSA record and what I wrote.  Unlike the NRA attack, my diary is not an unsigned, misguided screed.  I firmly believe the current leadership of the NRA has become a real enemy of mainstream hunters and shooters.  The group has lost touch with its roots – and instead of worrying about its members, it is far more concerned about its own finances worries and conservative political connections.

You only have to read "Ricochet:  Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist" by former NRA Lobbyist Richard Feldman to know how corrupted the NRA has become under its current elitist leadership.  Those leaders, led by LaPierre, are obsessed with raising money to fund their high priced perks and to feed the vast complex of consultants that feed at the trough and keep them in power.  It’s truly appalling – and it’s time for a change.

It’s almost amusing that the NRA is so afraid of AHSA.  But, there’s good reason.  They see the same research we see -- most gun owners share the AHSA viewpoint, not theirs.  The NRA has been the only game in town but, given the extreme positions taken by LaPierre and his right wing cronies, their support is actually not very deep.  Claire McCaskill proved that when Missouri gun owners rejected the NRA’s extremism.  Most of us want safe communities as well as a healthy environment.  Millions of gun owners reject the NRA’s support for gun rights for terrorists and siding with corporate logging interests over hunters.

What the NRA says about me doesn’t matter.  I don’t have to prove my pro-gun credentials.  If Wayne LaPierre wants to put his money where his mouth is, let’s meet in the duck blind and prove once and for who is hiding behind the camouflage.  Anyone who has hunted with me knows my commitment to the Second Amendment.  But they also know my love and commitment to the lands on which we hunt and the civic responsibility that goes along with our gun rights.  The days of the NRA defining what it means to be a pro-gun American are over.  

What the NRA leadership fails to realize is that AHSA will not bullied.  Won’t happen.   We care too deeply about our country and our hunting heritage.  Support for AHSA by rank and file hunters and shooters is growing steadily.  And, if you agree, join AHSA.

Wayne LaPierre needs to realize that AHSA will continue speaking out for interests of progressive hunters and shooters.  We are going to look for new ways to talk about the gun issue where the focus is on crime prevention rather than gun bans. We will continue to work for elected officials who value the environment while respecting our hunting and firearms heritage.  And, I’m confident, much to Wayne LaPierre’s chagrin, that progressive hunters and shooters realize the winds of political change that are sweeping our country proves most forward thinking gun owners agree with me.  

The NRA is right to be afraid of AHSA.  We’ve only just begun.

Originally posted to Schoenke on Thu Feb 28, 2008 at 12:24 PM PST.

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