By Don Mallicoat –
When I teach Hunter Education, one of the topics we talk about is hunter ethics. I always explain to the class that although only a small percentage of Americans actually hunt, the vast majority of the general populace approves of regulated hunting. I always like to start the discussion by asking attendees what percentage of the populous they think supports hunting. Most people guess in the 40 – 60 percent range. They are often surprised when I tell them that figure is closer to 80 percent. Now here are the data to support it.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation reports that a new survey shows 79 percent of the American public approve of hunting. This marks the highest level of support for hunting since 1995, according to data compiled by Responsive Management, an independent research firm. The nationwide scientific survey showed the public’s approval of hunting rose five points in the past year, up from 74 percent in 2011. The survey, conducted in February 2013 using random digit dialing and supplemental cellular telephone sampling, was the fifth in a series of similar surveys by Responsive Management to track trends in public approval of hunting since 1995.
Support for hunting has remained generally consistent during this time–73 percent in 1995; 75 percent in 2003; 78 percent in 2006; 74 percent in 2011; and a peak of 79 percent in 2013.mMark Damian Duda, executive director of Responsive Management, is still looking at survey results to better understand why approval has increased. Duda says, “Approval of hunting among Americans is fairly stable and bounces between 73 and 79 percent. The reasons for this increase are still unclear, but it is probably related to the increase in hunting and shooting participation.”
Added Duda, “Since 2006, hunting participation has increased by 9 percent while shooting participation has increased 18 percent since 2009. Other studies we have conducted on public opinion on hunting show that the strongest correlation for approval of hunting is knowing a hunter–over and above demographic variables or anything else. With the increased number of hunters in the field and sport shooters at the range, it is possible that this is being reflected in this uptick in support for hunting.” I would also add another variable. Hunter organizations like Backyard Bow Pro and others that give back to the community through venison donations to food charities are starting to get attention. People’s attitudes toward hunters are changing.
One thousand Americans 18 years old and older were surveyed to achieve a sampling error of plus or minus 3.00 percentage points. More than half (52%) of those surveyed strongly approved of hunting. At the other end of the spectrum, 12 percent of Americans disapprove of hunting. Another 8 percent neither approve nor disapprove (total does not equal 100% due to rounding).
As the U.S. Senate began its “Gun Control” Debate this week something I heard in their proposal boggled my mind. One of the members of the august body said the proposed bill would prohibit internet sale of guns. True, there are web sites that offer guns for sale by individuals; the two predominate of those being Gun Broker and Guns America. Here’s where the Senator’s comment did not make sense. Even if you sell a gun on these or any website, they MUST be transferred to a local Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) where a legal transfer is done. Let me make this clear: You cannot ship a rifle, shotgun, or handgun from individual to another individual. It must be done through an FFL. We do about five to ten of these each week at our store. Background checks are conducted for each transfer.
So this leaves me to only one conclusion: our best and brightest are not serving in the U.S. Senate. How can they even propose something in pending legislation that is ALREADY illegal? Do these senior statesmen not even have a staff member review current law/process before putting it in a bill? This portion of the proposed legislation alone shows how ridiculous and wasted their efforts are. Everything I’ve heard proposed will do nothing to curb gun violence, which I thought was the original intent. Even a recent poll of over 11,000 active police officers shows that nearly 80 percent of them do not see any of the proposals reducing gun violence. And to believe we pay these “senior statesmen” with our tax dollars to do this. It’s depressing.