by Karen Mehall Phillips - Friday, February 5, 2016
The NRA Hunters' Leadership Forum (HLF) showed its hand at the SCI Hunters' Convention in Las Vegas last night—and I don't mean a casino table—at an NRA HLF event waging war on anti-hunting extremists and outlining a campaign to save hunting's future. The power and engagement in the fight was front and center as NRA Executive Vice President Wayne La Pierre, NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox and past NRA President Jim Porter addressed the crowd and rallied troops for the fight of our lives in 2016.
NRA, SCI and like-minded organizations, clubs and associations comprised of millions of American hunters are in this fight together, and we will win it. Here's how: by creating an HLF network of industry and organizational supporters and launching a public awareness presence (an exclusive HLF portal on AmericanHunter.org and social media) to achieve widespread distribution of our message.
"The other side has a voice everywhere and we've got way too much silence," said La Pierre." "We've been facing a media onslaught and are standing in a hole it has taken decades to dig, and we won't get out overnight." Day after day, he explained, anti-hunters weave a fabric that attacks us, saying that if you hunt there is something sick about you. They use conservation as an excuse for bad behavior. Winning this fight starts with a thematic platform.
"It's not about guns, it' about freedom," he added, noting how themes resonate and invoke passion. With companies like Disney and the media we've got to be careful in choosing our target audience, but we have a place to fight back for hunters instead of just hunkering down. "Together we will turn the debate in our favor. We've done it before, we can do it again. America is on our side."
Up next, Cox stepped up to the podium and cut to the chase. "Trust when I say this problem is not about ivory or lions any more than it is about background checks. It's a cultural war and if we lose sight of that, we'll lose. How do you negotiate with someone who is only satisfied with your utter destruction? If we lose in November, none of this will matter!"
For starters, he emphasized we hunters must make it easier for young people to hunt and share our opportunities from the cradle to the grave. We must develop a campaign but while we can have different ideas and opinions, we can't have different ideas on what we're trying to achieve.
Cox reminded the crowd that Hillary Clinton says the Supreme Court got it wrong on the Second Amendment when it ruled we have the right to own a firearm for self defense. Hillary says we must look to Australia. It's the same with hunting as it is for firearms. If we don't engage in the cultural war that's run like a campaign, the only thing we'll be giving our grandkids is our old hunting photos.
Closing out the evening, Porter said, "We're putting all the muscle and horsepower NRA has into this, and it will take all of us to win this fight. The facts are on our side. It's a place where those who have ideas and want to express them have have the opportunity. In 2014, 90 percent of candidates Chris and ILA endorsed were elected. That's the kind of attitude that will win this!"
No doubt, spreading the word to preserve and grow hunting entails a Herculean effort between the NRA, SCI and every other group we hunters can involve. For more information on the NRA HLF, click here to read this HLF story posted earlier from the SCI Hunters' Convention and visit AmericanHunter.org/HLF.
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