American Hunters and Shooters Association (AHSA) tries to bully the NRA

By Larry S. Moore

American Hunters and Shooters Association (AHSA) is clearly a master at the imitation game. As reported by Dave Workman in Gun Week on May 1, the organization rode into St. Louis on the coattails of the NRA Convention using the same type of deception the organization is known for in attempting to lure NRA members to their organization.

The information all came to light when AHSA held a press conference at a hotel close to the NRA Convention site. AHSA President Ray Schoenke ejected the NRA-TV news crew from the event. According to Gun Week, “Schoenke twice put his hands on the shoulder and arm of reporter Ginny Simone as cameraman Mark Wahley recorded the event.” Schoenke, a former pro-football player towered over the rather petite Simone, and, again quoting from the report, stated that he was “…tired of being bullied by the NRA”. Gun Week was allowed to stay at the press conference.

The hotel was appropriately confused in the whole encountered. The staff “assumed” the AHSA was associated with the NRA convention. From the Gun Week report, “They (the NRA) tried to get the hotel to kick us out. That’s their answer”, he said. “If you (NRA) don’t agree with them (alternative groups) you bully them and intimidate them. This is not going to happen with us.”

If the AHSA was not such a serious threat to gun owner rights through their deception and “sensible” gun laws they support, the above scene would have been completely hilarious, with a former pro-football player attempting to intimidate a lady while accusing her employer of being a bully.

However, the AHSA is winning some converts. I encountered one such convert at the recent Outdoor Writers of Ohio convention.

The gentleman is an outdoor writer from Kentucky by the name of Soc Clay. The Kentucky writers were invited to attend some of the functions at the Ohio convention. Since my family roots largely remain in Kentucky I invited several of the Kentucky writers to join my wife and me at dinner the first evening.

During the conversation the fate of Jim Zumbo came up in discussion. Clay immediately went off on a tirade about the NRA bullying Zumbo out of his job, his livelihood and his good reputation. Next was an endorsement of AHSA along with more “sensible approach to the gun issues” that appears to be out of the same playbook Schoenke used. Clay claims to be a long-time friend of Zumbo. Considering the convention and location, I mostly held my tongue, only suggesting that Clay was being deceived and risking the same type of “education by gun owners” that Zumbo has received. After that I rather avoided the aging, and perhaps out of touch, writer.

Certainly, not all gun owners or hunters are happy with the NRA on any given day or subject. That is fine and acceptable for debate. Critical hunting issues include both guns and public access to good habitat. Which is more important? Neither or both is my answer. I can’t hunt without my guns but my guns are no help if there is no place to hunt.

However, the NRA has a good track record in supporting hunters. I can personally attest to this with the NRA’s recent support of concealed carry for hunters in Ohio. When the leadership of Buckeye Firearms Association felt we had a very good chance to push for CCW for hunters with the Division of Wildlife, we called upon the NRA for support. They answered by sending an Alert to their members that the time was now to move forward. That Alert was picked up by many NRA members, including Dr. Larry Mixon who is on the Ohio Wildlife Council (the Division of Wildlife public oversight board). It was critical support and the timing was key.

The AHSA continues to act like spoiled brats, elitists, and slight of hand snake oil salesmen in the field of hunter and shooter rights. Gun Week reports that Schoenke continued his bullying accusations against the NRA for trying to discourage mayors from joining the Bloomberg coalition of anti-gun mayors. Apparently AHSA believes hunters should partner with Bloomberg’s illegal witch-hunt to eliminate guns.

However, the pedigree of AHSA gets even worse. The group’s research on guns was led by Josh Ulibarri, vice-president at Lake Research Partners. Lake Research Partners boast on their website that its principles are among the Democratic Party’s leading strategists. Their client list includes the Democratic National Committee, The Democratic Governor’s Association, Sierra Club (which is hugely anti-hunting), Human Rights Campaign, Emily’s List and the Kaiser Foundation.

The AHSA with the deceptive tactics and self-serving “research numbers” is not going to go away. They are making inroads to uninformed hunters. While not as big or politically connected, at least yet, as the Brady Bunch, the Joyce Foundation's Freedom States Alliance, PETA or other anti-gun or anti-hunting organizations, they are a force to be carefully watched.

Outdoor writer and hunter education instructor Larry S. Moore is a Region Leader for Buckeye Firearms Association and winner of the 2005 USSA Patriot Award.

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