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'John Kerry is the only man in America who wears blaze orange as camouflage."

Sandra S. Froman,  NRA  First Vice President

Concealed Kerry

Lifelong hunter. Sportsman. Dove Hunter. Con Artist. Don't fall into the trap being set by presidential hopeful John Kerry. A close look at his record—and at his supporters—shows where he really stands on matters near to the hunters heart. A revealing portrait of an accomplished doublespeaker.

By Wayne R. LaPierre & Chris W. Cox

Democratic Presidential Hopeful John Kerry's transparent attempt to absolve his career-long aggression against the Second Amendment by claiming to be a "lifelong hunter" and a believer in what he craftily and narrowly defines as "the right to bear arms" is akin to a serial shoplifter claiming to be a "preferred customer."

The fact that John Kerry poses as a hunter cannot cover his serial attempts to progressively steal Americans' Second Amendment rights—rights inextricably intertwined with the future of our unique hunting heritage.

Since he was first elected to the Senate from Massachusetts in 1984 to serve as an acolyte to Sen. Edward Kennedy, Kerry has voted more than 50 times to diminish the rights of firearms owners and hunters. Fact is, Kerry has more than earned his "F" rating from NRA.

Kerry's spinmeisters, and their enablers in the media who keep repeating the mantra that he is a "lifelong hunter and gun owner," are going for a mental disconnect, selling the bogus notion that gun control— the progressive erosion of the Second Amendment—has nothing to do with hunters.

Consider the real meaning of Kerry's latest gun control votes, which came in March when he broke his perfect record of Senate absenteeism to make his first votes of 2004— specifically to kill NRA-backed legislation that would have ended the ongoing plague of purely punitive, malicious lawsuits designed to bankrupt the law-abiding firearms trade in America. Those suits, virtually all of which have been thrown out of court, have cost consumers—hunters—literally hundreds of millions of dollars.

Enactment of that reform, which Kerry and his close allies, Ted Kennedy, Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, loaded with poisonous amendments to ban semi-autos and criminalize now-legal private sales at gun shows, is critically important to the future of hunting in America. Kerry, who gets huge financial support from trial lawyers, proudly voted to kill the bill.

The connection between hunting and major lawsuits to kill the firearms industry should be a no-brainer. No firearms, no hunting. No ammunition, no hunting.

These malevolent suits, which seek to make the whole chain of lawful commerce in firearms and ammunition pay the ultimate price for acts of violent criminals, are not just aimed at federally licensed manufacturers, distributors and individual dealers. They are intended to harm consumers.

Think about today's price for a box of ammo or the cost of a hunting rifle. Then think of the hundreds of millions of dollars paid by every element of the lawful firearms chain of commerce for legal fees and court costs. If the consumer didn't share in that cost, there would be no firearms industry.

Hunters Pay the Urban Lawsuit Tax

With All These Lawsuits, the nation's hunters are paying a punitive private tax levied for the pleasure of big city machine politicians, fat-cat trial lawyers and the special interest gun-ban lobbies.

When urban mayors began filing a long list of coordinated attack lawsuits in conjunction with groups like the Brady Campaign (Handgun Control, Inc.), the Violence Policy Center and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, there was no question about the end game—a slow death to lawful firearms commerce.

John Coale, Washington, D.C., tort lawyer, bragged to The Washington Post,"the legal fees alone are enough to bankrupt the industry." The Post also noted that, "many smaller manufacturers have been dropped by their insurers and are drowning in legal bills."

And who ultimately must pay those legal bills? Hunters, gun owners, consumers, of course.

The Tampa Tribune, in a March 14, 1999, story on the status of various big city anti-gun-industry lawsuits, forever defined the issue, saying:

"To the mayors and gun control advocates, only good can come of the lawsuits. Handgun Control (Inc.) officials said the companies will either lose in court and pay, or settle out of court and pay... The other option is that the firearms companies fight and, like dying from a thousand cuts, are driven out of business by the cost of the lawsuits."

The paper also quoted Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence: "There's not a pot of gold at the end of this. There might be a bunch of bankrupt companies."

For hunters and wildlife conservationists, the bankrupting of the firearms industry, which John Kerry voted to sustain, could also represent a "death by a thousand cuts" to the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Fund—the most successful federal wildlife conservation and maintenance program ever conceived.

The fund, which has seen nearly $6 billion spent on wildlife conservation throughout the nation, was created by shooters and hunters, who are the sole contributors to its programs through a federal excise tax on every box of ammo and every firearm sold through federally licensed dealers.

Eleven percent of every dollar we spend on firearms, ammunition and accessories pays the sole cost for wildlife conservation. Period. Birdwatchers, hikers, bikers and climbers who don't buy this equipment don't pay a dime.

If John Kerry's political allies among big city mayors, trial lawyers and gun ban advocates get their way and shut down the firearms industry, they will kill the single most important conservation effort in the history of the nation.

John Kerry's vote to embrace the "death by a thousand cuts" lawsuits was a vote against pro-hunting conservation programs funded by shooters and hunters. He can't have it any other way.

Know the Real John Kerry by His Supporters

IF GUN RIGHTS organizations have got his number, so do the animal "rights" (read, "anti-hunting") groups that give him top marks. As a consistent water-carrier for the rabidly anti-hunting Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and its partner organization, Fund for Animals, Kerry has earned 100 percent ratings. These groups prize Kerry as key among legislators who have, in the organizations' own words, "emerged as animal protection leaders."

Kerry, the HSUS 100-percenter, says he is a hunter. Yet his supporters at HSUS say, "If we could shut down all sport hunting in a moment, we would."

John Kerry—the Fund for Animals 100-percenter—wears a blaze orange vest for a phony media photo-op pheasant hunt in Iowa to create an image as a hunter, but his close supporters at Fund for Animals say, "Hunting is cruel. It is deceitful. It is socially unjustified. It is ecologically disruptive. Fund for Animals opposes hunting in all its forms."

Something just doesn't add up. All of this reveals the truth behind Kerry's pose as a "lifelong hunter."

NRA First Vice President Sandra Froman put it best in her speech at the 2004 Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Pittsburgh:

"Those of us who hunt wear blaze orange in the woods to be seen," Froman said. "But John Kerry is the only man in America who wears blaze orange as camouflage."

Hunting for Publicity, Not Pheasants

NOWHERE IS THE hollow nature of that pose clearer than on Kerry's own Web site, found at johnkerry.com. The site includes a "Sportsmen for Kerry" page. Yet there is no independent Sportsmen for Kerry organization. Sportsmen for Kerry exists only on Kerry's campaign Web site, created by campaign workers to manufacture hunter support for their candidate. Some unions and other groups that boast Sportsmen for Kerry ties simply link back to the Kerry campaign-created Web page and the information provided there.

But there are photos of Kerry from his pre-Iowa caucus media "pheasant hunt"—images that his handlers and spinmeisters have crafted to fool some hunters and outdoor writers into believing that Kerry is just another good of boy, instead of an elitist, extremist gun-banner fully embraced by the likes of HSUS.

All of this follows the smoke-and-mirrors manifesto that another gun ban group, Americans for Gun Safety, developed jointly with the Democratic Leadership Group. Called "Taking Back the Second Amendment," the strategy document lays out a political battle plan under which "progressives need not change their positions ..." but merely, "change the rhetoric they employ." (Emphasis added.)

John Kerry could be the poster boy for this "Taking Back the Second Amendment" strategy.

When he spoke in favor of poison pill amendments to s. 659, The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, before voting to kill the firearms industry lawsuit reform, Kerry mockingly said, "I believe strongly in the Second Amendment. I believe in the right to bear arms as it has been interpreted in our country... (Emphasis added.)

Note Kerry does not say "keep and bear" arms. And in the view of most so-called "progressives," the Second Amendment only applies to the National Guard, not to individuals. The constant mantra among Kerry allies like Sen. Dianne Feinstein is that the courts have repeatedly and consistently interpreted the Right to Keep and Bear Arms as not applying to individual citizens.

In the same breath Kerry said, "however ... There is no right to have access to the weapons of war in the streets of America..."

Weapons of war?

If you don't think that statement applies to many "hunting rifles" and "sporting shotguns look no further than Kerry's prime co-sponsorship of s. 1431, a draconian piece of legislation giving the u.s. attorney general carte blanc to prohibit private possession of "any firearm" design which has been "procured for use by the United States military or any federal law enforcement agency..."

All of this comes under the rubric of "assault weapons" and would declare such firearms contraband because the government presumes that, based on military or police use, such firearms are "not particularly suitable for sporting purposes."

The military currently uses the ubiquitous Remington 700 rifles and Remington 870, and Mossberg 500 shotguns. Federal law enforcement agencies have used everything from Winchester Model 975 and Model 945 and Model 12S to the venerable prewar Model 70s. The list of contraband arms with a military procurement would cover '03 Springfields, 1917 Enfields, Mossberg .225, Kimber .22 target rifles. The list is endless.

This is Kerry's notion of "assault weapons." His name is on the bill, and its purpose is in black and white for all to read.

For those who think that the average pump or semi-auto shotgun commonly found afield is safe from government confiscation, look no further than England, South Africa and Australia, where all such arms have been forcibly removed from the hands of licensed owners. And where such bans have been implemented, sport hunting has simply vanished save for a privileged very few—the nobility and the elite.

Outdoor Writers Take the Bait

BUT ALL OF THIS is LOST on some outdoor writers, who seem to have bought into the AGS smoke and mirrors hiding the real John Kerry. All they see is a man in blaze orange saying, "I'm a hunter."

Outdoor writer James A. Swan, in National Review Online of all places, gushed over the man in the blaze orange vest:

"John Kerry caught the attention of hunters when he invited the press to go along on a pheasant hunt in Iowa last November ... By inviting the press along to photograph him as he bagged two birds with two shots, he proved that he was both a hunter and a damn good shot— and also that he's not afraid of any animal-rights backlash.

"Some hunters also felt an instant kinship with Kerry As Ryan McKinney, the Iowa farmer on whose property Kerry hunted, said,'It feels a little safer if your presidential hopeful isn't going to go after your typical normal shotgun'." (Emphasis added.)

But witness Kerry's name on s. 1431. Read the legislation. Your typical, normal shotgun would be banned.

Kerry and his handlers are hoping for this kind of intellectual short-circuit, where the connection is lost between his constant attacks on the Second Amendment and the future of hunting—a freedom secured by the Constitution and under the wonderfully simple instruction of the Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

Every aspect of the exercise of the Second Amendment by more than 80 million Americans— collecting, shooting, self-protection, plinking and, of course, hunting—is inseparably entwined with Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. There are 80 million individual reasons peaceable people own guns in America, and hunting is a large part of that Second Amendment exercise. Without that right, the tools for hunting will vanish as surely as they have in Britain and Australia.

John Kerry's run for the presidency threatens that very right—the right to pursue the happiness of the hunt and to pass that tradition down to future generations of American hunters.

Originally published in Free Hunters magazine.
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