The Second Amendment isn’t about hunting...or is it???
By Larry S. Moore
I hear the phrase "The Second Amendment isn't about hunting" repeated in various comments, articles, websites and blogs. It is being repeated so often that is has become an accepted fact. I'm more tired of hearing this than I was the old Wendy's commercial, "Where's the beef?" (okay I am dating myself). Some days I've heard it so many times that I wonder why I bother to be involved in Second Amendment issues. It seems I spend more time promoting/defending gun ownership than I do hunting. I was a hunter well before I was into guns or a defender of the Second Amendment. I am grey of head and long in the tooth enough to see that my days afield are numbered.
Okay, before everyone rushes out to lynch me or burn me at the stake, please stay with me. I understand that the phrase initially was coined to let politicians know that just because they donned some new camo and took a hunting trip it is not an indication they are a sportsman or understand gun issues. I took John Kerry to task for that during his presidential campaign hunting photo op in Ohio. And I've seen many other political mailings aimed at sportsmen or gun owners where models wear new clothes or pack guns afield in manners that are apparent they've never been there before the photo shoot.
I've taken photos used in campaign mailers of real elected officials using their personal firearms in a variety of situations from the trap field, sporting clays ranges, rabbit/pheasant or deer hunting and in concealed carry classes. Most all these politicians have stood strong with us whether they were only occasional hunters, plinkers or have a CHL and exercise that right. It is their guns and they understand.
Understanding the Second Amendment has little to do about the particular aspect of firearms ownership. Witness the people over at American Hunters and Shooters Association, who will willingly give away some of our rights to own firearms of our choice. Witness the politician who will proclaim on the campaign trail they support the Second Amendment but will vote to take away certain semi-automatic firearms, require various licensing schedules or ration my rights.
Understanding the Second Amendment is about more than just any one aspect of firearms – whether collecting, hunting, tactical shooting, CMP shooting or concealed carry. It is about understanding our unique American heritage, what our Founding Fathers laid down for us and protecting (what's left) of those freedoms.
My right to own the firearm of my choice is EXACTLY the reason the Second Amendment is ABOUT hunting. If I can't own the firearm of my choice I sure as hell can't go hunting with it. Period.
I happen to chose old guns for much of my hunting and shooting activities. Maybe I am just stuck on the old thing. I collect (or at least accumulate) and hunt with LC Smith American classic side by side shotguns. My preferred deer hunting guns are either a handgun or muzzleloading rifle. I still use my 35-year old Thompson Center Hawken. It will still put three shots touching at 100-yards assuming my old eyes are not having a bad day. My deer rifle of choice (for out of state rifle hunting) is an early 1930s Winchester Model 71 in .348 caliber.
I spend time defending the Second Amendment partially so we have the firearms of choice for hunting. I've equipped a 20-gauge Remington 1100 with a rifled slug barrel, high visibility open sights, and a black synthetic stock and a pistol grip like an AR-15 stock. I've found this makes an excellent handling, very fast, deer slug gun. The features of the stock are great for ladies and youth. If I deer hunted with a slug gun this would be my choice. Does this make it a "deer assault weapon?"
I've endured many comments that vintage shotgun collectors, trap shooters and hunters generally don't care about the Second Amendment since they believe their guns are not affected. I've also heard from some people who prefer shooting their SKS or AR claiming no one is going to take "their guns." An attitude they proudly wear while slamming politicians and generally not getting involved with promoting the Second Amendment. Both of these attitudes are wrong and short-sighted.
However the continued use of "the Second Amendment isn't about hunting" does rather make me wonder why I've spent so much time involved with the issues. It would be short-sighted on my part to stop protecting the Second Amendment over such a statement. The Second Amendment isn't about photo-ops on the campaign trail. It isn't about broad statements proclaiming support for the Constitution while voting to limit our rights. It isn't the cause of Mexico's drug problem. It doesn't cause drive-by shootings any more than the automobile industry causes them.
The Second Amendment says "The right to keep and bear arms..." It doesn't say for what and that damned sure makes it about hunting with the firearm of my choice.
Outdoor writer and hunter education instructor Larry S. Moore is a long-time volunteer leader for Buckeye Firearms Association and winner of the 2005 USSA Patriot Award and 2007 League of Ohio Sportsmen/Ohio Wildlife Federation Hunter Educator of the Year.