The TRCP and Guns

Now that the gun debate in Congress has died down, I wanted to address those questions that we got along the lines of “why hasn’t the TRCP taken a position?”

The TRCP was created in 2002 with a very focused mission: to guarantee all Americans quality places to hunt and fish. Our mission has been reaffirmed over the years and is being done so again this year.

Gun owners are very effectively represented in Washington, D.C.; what was lacking before the TRCP was a single organization to pull together the disparate voices of the hunting and fishing community to work together on issues related to conservation and access.

Roosevelt in Africa on horse with gun

Image courtesy of U.S. Library of Congress.

Very simply, others know far more than we do about the Second Amendment, not to mention school safety, the mental health system, weapons trafficking and other key components of the gun-violence debate today.

Mission drift is a concern for all organizations. That is why they create missions, visions and strategic plans to guide their actions.

The range of conservation issues in which the TRCP does engage is diverse and represents the interests of the millions of hunters and anglers in this country. From water quality, private lands conservation and marine fisheries management to responsible energy development and conservation on federal public lands, the TRCP works collaboratively with our partners to develop smarter natural resource policies – policies that promote the conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitat, increase funding for responsive resource management and enhance public access for sportsmen.

There are a few issues important to sportsmen (in addition to the Second Amendment) that fall outside our organization’s charter. We do not engage in youth education efforts, in large part because so many of our partners, from the National Wild Turkey Federation to the International Hunter Education Association, do such a great job at this work.

We don’t do on-the-ground habitat conservation projects. That’s already being done by Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, Pheasants Forever and many others. And we don’t do electoral politics – we don’t have a political action committee and we remain fiercely nonpartisan. In short, we focus on what we do best: advocating for habitat, funding and access.

It is worth noting the important role that hunters and anglers play in funding conservation in America.  For more than 75 years, the Pittman-Robertson Act, which created an excise tax on guns and ammunition sales, has thrived, providing more than $6.5 billion to state fish and wildlife agencies.

As sportsmen, our priority should be to ensure the successful continuation of funding for key conservation programs. Not only are such programs critical for fish and wildlife habitat, they make good economic sense. This is a point we have stressed to Congress and the administration since the TRCP was created, including during the gun debate.

While the gun control debate has dominated the recent news cycle, conservation, funding and access continue to demand our attention and advocacy – and will do so well into the future. The TRCP will remain at the forefront of these issues and will persevere in our efforts to uphold opportunities to hunt and fish for this generation and those that follow.

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Whit Fosburgh
Whit Fosburgh joined TRCP as President and CEO in June 2010. Prior to working at the TRCP, Fosburgh spent 15 years at Trout Unlimited, playing a critical role in that organization’s evolution into a conservation powerhouse. Fosburgh grew up hunting and fishing in upstate New York and was a member of team USA in the 1997 World Fly Fishing Championships. He brings a wealth of experience centered on conservation policy, fundraising and program development as well as a passion for the outdoors.

Related posts:

  1. Alan Wentz, Ph.D.
  2. Celebrate Theodore Roosevelt’s Birthday by Supporting the TRCP
  3. TRCP Takes Conservation Message to South Africa
  4. What Happened in 2012?
  5. TRCP Supporter Wins Signature Buck Knife
About Whit Fosburgh

Whit Fosburgh joined TRCP as President and CEO in June 2010. Prior to working at the TRCP, Fosburgh spent 15 years at Trout Unlimited, playing a critical role in that organization’s evolution into a conservation powerhouse. Fosburgh grew up hunting and fishing in upstate New York and was a member of team USA in the 1997 World Fly Fishing Championships. He brings a wealth of experience centered on conservation policy, fundraising and program development as well as a passion for the outdoors.

15 comments on “The TRCP and Guns

  1. Alan Wentz on said:

    Whit, Great points in your blog! TRCP needs to keep its focus and work hard on keeping sound conservation policies in place. Habitat and access are critical issues if we and future generations are going to be able to enjoy the resources we all cherish. Keep up the excellent work!
    Alan Wentz
    TRCP Board Member
    Chief Conservation Officer for Ducks Unlimited (retired)

  2. Gary Schweitzer on said:

    I am very disappointed with TRCP’s neutrality on Second Amendment issues. I do agree with this statement from your article, “As sportsmen, our priority should be to ensure the successful continuation of funding for key conservation programs.” And no program has been more successful than the Pittman-Robertson Act and the money generated by sales of guns and ammunition that this act authorizes. What becomes of conservation programs when civilian ownership of firearms is no more? No one is this country can be neutral in the face of the current attack on gun ownership. And the TRCP is foolish to believe that it can be!

  3. Dan Bantley on said:

    I am very concerned that TRCP is just disguised as a sportsmen’s organization (like many others). Based on numerous times seeing far left agendas such as; global warming, excuse me that was exposed as a farce so now it’s climate change, honoring Tester who is also far left and has voted against 2nd amendment issues, Obama care, etc., with TRCP being silent in the recent 2nd amendment fight and coming out with this excuse “We don’t know anything about it!” , silent about the wolves destroying our elk, deer and moose herds out west, backing federal government land grabs “Wilderness Areas” where they take out the roads and bridges and access to sportsmen. Just to name a few. Sounds to me like an ENEMY to sportsmen!

    • Brian J on said:

      Your tin foil hat is squeezing your brain. I think all useful discussion stops when the partisan dogma starts. And seriously, how many scientists still question the potential fall out of what is now almost 400ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere? I guess I just like roadless wilderness as much as like firearms…

  4. K-Lynn Paul, M.D. on said:

    I agree with the approach described above. Those of the gun advocate group who oppose extending background checks do not represent me. It is like saying we should oppose laws against drunk driving because they won’t prevent all alcohol related deaths.

  5. Steve on said:

    Many of the reasons I belong to TRCP are superbly articulated by Whit in this short piece. It’s admirable, and a little astonishing, that TRCP remains “fiercely nonpartisan,” when so many non-profit organizations are drawn down into recriminations and exclusion.

    Whit is right that the voices of hunters and fishermen are “disparate.” In the continual partisan bickering which seems to be our lot in modern American, we lose sight of the fact that outdoorsmen and -women are united in their hearts by the love of wild places. We are joined in a unity granted by nature herself. From time to time (and, if we’re lucky, more often) we share a oneness with the wild that’s unique to those who fish and hunt.

    I think that it is sad, maybe even a little tragic, that people who enthusiastically engage in outdoor sports generally–whether these be left-leaning climbers and kayakers or right-leaning range-shooters–sometimes lose sight of our shared responsibilities as stewards of our great open spaces.

    In the twenty-first century, we face environmental and cultural challenges not known to our grandparents. As Whit points out, our shared energy is needed to show to modern urbanites (the vast majority of our fellow citizens) just how crucial the American outdoors is to our identity as Americans, whether we live out our lives in Los Angeles, California, or Madison, Arkansas.

    As humans, and especially as Americans, we have many channels to protect our rights. But the wilderness needs our protection as well. Neither it nor the American generations that revered the wild before us can now speak in its behalf. The TRCP, however, is doing just that with the single-mindedness of mission this vital task requires, as Whit justly points out. In this one area–the continuing health of and reverence for our shared wild places– we need to stand together in light of a greater need that should transcend partisanship.

    I am convinced that we can better know our true and basic commonalty as Americans through the shared love of the outdoors so clearly and so forthrightly shown by the TRCP.

    • Scott Hed on said:

      I was going to chime in with my own comment, but read this one and it says pretty much everything I was thinking of writing. The TRCP plays a crucial role in modern America’s sporting conservation community, and I’m proud to be a member and supporter. Keep up the great work, Whit and team!

    • John Gale on said:

      This response is spot on and I have little to add except to say that Whit Fosburgh’s comments should remind all of us to keep our focus trained on the commitments that we’ve made to ensuring that our public lands continue to support healthy populations of fish and wildlife in defense of their habitat and our unique American heritage as sportsmen. I tip my hat to Mr. Fosburgh and TRCP.

  6. Johnny Sain on said:

    Proud that TRCP has stayed the course and proud that they have managed to remain outside of the gun debate along with other political pitfalls. TRCP has in eye for the big picture when it comes to the challenges that wildlife and sportsman will face in the future.

  7. dannyb on said:

    I was going to add to the discussion, but Steve pretty much summed it up. I think its smart for the TRCP to stay out of the name calling and militant politics that both the far right and far left are engaging in in terms of the so called “war against guns”.

    The TRCP is about conserving wildlands and animals for everyone, not to supporrt someones inane desire to own a AR-15 so they can pretend to play “Rambo” or “Red Dawn”

  8. Patrick Drohan on said:

    Thank you Whit. Great blog post!

  9. Mike on said:

    We need to ALL work together for good legislation that is effective. We need to stop settling for the best we can get at any given time. i believe background checks are a responsible approach. However, the proposed bill that failed would not have prevented the school shootings. As Whit mentioned there are many parts to the subject of gun and crime control. Citizen groups need to write out their own ideas and present our ideas to the politicians. Let us all remember they work for us.

  10. Duffy Leahy on said:

    If you are concerned that TRCP isn’t working on 2nd amendment issues, join the NRA. Problem solved. TRCP doesn’t cost anything to join and they have been very effective in many problem areas affecting sportsman. While I am a fierce defender of the 2nd Amendment, I put my money where it does the most good politically for 2nd Amendment issues and let the TRCP (who can also use our support) handle the environmental side.

  11. Ryan on said:

    I just want to add my support to Whit’s blog as well as some of the comments such as Steve’s above. I believe we need to be staunch supporters of conservation the 2nd amendment. Without both the world will be a lesser place, that is why I am a supporter of the NRA and TRCP.

    • Mike Olson on said:

      Partisan politics is adversarial to the Sportsman and conserversationist The same money that supports 2nd amendment rights may restrict conservation programs and or support jobs being shipped overseas that restrict our economic freedom to enjoy hunting and fishing

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