Buckeye Firearms Assoc. leaders on hand as Ohio sportsman welcomes VP candidate, Congressman Paul Ryan

by Larry S. Moore

Sportsmen and women from across Ohio once again converged on the Aladdin Shrine Temple in Columbus for the annual US Sportsmen's Alliance (USSA) Ohio Rally. Whether they came to renew friendships; join in the fun of the various games, raffles and auctions; or simply to support the USSA, the evening provided ample opportunity.

Governor Kasich opened the evening. Prior to leading the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, he noted, "I believe the most important thing is when you tell people you are going to do something that you do it. When I was here in 2010, I said I would fight for our right to bear arms and I have not let anybody get in the middle of that amendment right. We've kept our word to all the gun collectors and hunters in this state. Regarding the Wildlife Fund you all worry about being raided, well there ain't no way - no how! We will leave that fund strong. All the areas of habitat are important to us. We made a commitment to Lake Erie and Grand Lake St. Mary's. We are not just talking we are doing because it is important. We are promoting tourism because we think sportsmen all over America should come to Ohio."

Rob Sexton, USSA Senior Vice President, had the pleasure of presenting the USSA Patriot Award to two leading Ohio sportsmen. Sexton first presented the award to former Division of Wildlife Chief Mike Budzik. He noted that Budzik has remained very active since his retirement from the Division and works hard to elect politicians who understand and support our issues. The second award was presented to Congressman Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green). Sexton noted that since Latta first served in the Ohio legislature he has been a true friend to Ohio's sportsmen. Latta currently serves as co-Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen Caucus.

Congressman Latta commented, "This is quite a surprise and I appreciate the recognition. My Dad started me walking for pheasants in northwest Ohio when I was very young. We need to bring up the next generation of hunters. My two passions are hunting and shooting at the National Matches at Camp Perry." Congressman Latta also lead the invocation.

Well-known national sportsmen Rob Keck is serving on the Sportsmen for Romney campaign. Keck explained that Ryan is a hunter who lives our sport. He urged sportsmen to spread the word and get out the vote saying, "Gun owners represent a huge voting bloc. It's time to be heard. Make sure you are at the polls. Vote your sport. Are you better off today? Do you have more money to put gas in the pickup truck than in 2008? I've had the pleasure to be in hunting camp with Mitt Romney. Admittedly Mitt didn't grow up hunting and doesn't claim to be a hunter. You learn a lot about a person in hunting camp. I can tell you he is decisive and has a clear vision for our country."

A special treat this year was the keynote address by Vice-Presidential Candidate Congressman Paul Ryan. Ryan, who was introduced by USSA President and CEO Bud Pidgeon, hit the stage to hearty applause and cheers. Ithaca Gun Company President David Dlubak presented Ryan a 75th anniversary Ithaca Model 37 shotgun. Ryan immediately noted, "I've got one of these in 20 gauge from my Grandfather. You know what's good about these? The downward ejection design is great for lefties. I've got rules in Congress so I can't accept this but if it's okay we will put it into the auction." The crowd loved it. The gun, which Ryan also autographed, eventually sold for over $8000.

With that introduction Congressman Paul Ryan had the Aladdin Shrine Temple rocking. It might be a safe bet to state the Aladdin Shrine Temple has never quite experienced that noise level. Ryan quickly got down to the business of drawing stark comparisons between President Obama and a Romney/Ryan administration.

Ryan opened, "It's great to be here. I've enjoyed hunting and fishing in Ohio because I went to college here. Hunters and anglers are the best conservationists. They should be treated with respect by our country. We've got to teach our children our heritage. You teach great life lessons when you take kids hunting. You teach patience, respect and conservation. You spend time with your kids. Our future is not certain. When you look at the election it's about choice."

He continued, "There are people who work in federal government that don't believe in open access to our public lands or our heritage. Gun owners understand freedom because we exercise our individual right to the Second Amendment. President Obama accused us in the mid-west of being bitter and clinging to our guns and religion. This Catholic deer hunter is guilty as charged and proud of it! This election is about two futures. Do we want a government that respects our rights; protects our natural rights and promotes opportunity so we can make the most of our lives? As a gun owner I know President Obama's record in the US Senate. What will he do if he never has to face the voters again? The next President will appoint a lot of judges which are lifetime positions. If you want judges that respect our Second Amendment rights, you need a President that respects the right. Mitt Romney and I respect the Second Amendment as an individual right."

"Let's be really clear. We can't afford four more years of this. This election is more than simply protecting our heritage, our habitat and our gun rights. We are really deciding what kind of country we are going to have for a generation. America is an idea that was written in the Declaration of Independence. It is that our rights come from nature not from government. We will not try to replace our founding principles. We will reapply our founding principles. It is critical to turn this country around to protect our rights and our heritage", Ryan concluded.

Ryan received applause throughout his speech and a thunderous standing ovation at the conclusion. It was clearly a heartfelt message delivered to sportsmen and women in the heart of Ohio. Leaving the building all was quiet. Gone were the satellite trucks, the national media and the few protesters trying to get some attention. What was left was a message that resounded with the sportsmen crowd and the hope for protecting our way of life.

Outdoor writer and hunter education instructor Larry S. Moore is a long-time volunteer leader for Buckeye Firearms Foundation and winner of the 2005 USSA Patriot Award, the 2007 League of Ohio Sportsmen/Ohio Wildlife Federation Hunter Educator of the Year and the 2010 National Wild Turkey Federation/ Women in the Outdoors Hunter Education Instructor of the Year.

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