“Never Let Them Tear Down Your Hunter’s Wall”
By Ron Schmeits, NRA 1st Vice President
If you were not able to attend this year’s NRA Annual Meetings, you missed a powerful speech about hunting made by NRA 1st Vice President Ron Schmeits. We reprint it here and trust you will take his message to heart.
It makes me feel good to see that so many of you are hunters. I saw you yesterday checking out the hunting gear in the exhibit hall.
But I don't believe what the animal-rights people say about you! You don't look like serial killers. You don't look like psychopaths. You don't look like bloodthirsty butchers. No! You look like good, hard working Americans who enjoy the outdoors!
We all know who's telling those lies about you. "PETA"—People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. They're the biggest threat to hunting in America.
Let me tell you a story about a sleepy little town in Wisconsin. Like many of us, the folks there enjoy hunting and fishing. At a school in town, a teacher posted a "Hunter's Wall" on the bulletin board in his classroom.
That way, students could show off their first ringneck pheasant or put up a picture of their Dad's 10-point buck. All in all, the students posted about 50 photos of their game on the Hunter's Wall.
The fact is 1 out of 8 Wisconsin residents are hunters. Hunting is as much a part of their culture as their religion.
But PETA heard about the Hunter's Wall. And they wanted to stop those “bloodthirsty” residents of Wisconsin! So PETA wrote to the school principal to complain, and sent a copy of their letter to the news media.
PETA said the students' pictures on the Hunter's Wall made it "a monument to violence, suffering, and death."
PETA said the Hunter's Wall "glorifies and rewards violence!" PETA said: "In this culture of escalating youth violence it is irresponsible and downright dangerous to teach our children how to kill."
What do you think? Should PETA get their way? Should the "Hunter's Wall" come down?
(Audience shouted, “No!”)
I think PETA is totally out of touch with reality. Kids who hunt aren't bad. And hunting isn't bad for kids.
Doctor Randall Eaton of Enterprise, Oregon, is an expert on why hunting is good for kids. He's talked to professionals in every field you can think of.
He found that hunting makes kids more confident and responsible. Hunting makes kids care more about others. And hunting makes kids realize that their actions have consequences.
Here's what the experts told Dr. Eaton:
Professors at the University of Wyoming said hunting and shooting teaches kids about self-control and patience.
Brain researchers say: it's a good idea to teach kids to hunt.
Why? Because after thousands of generations of hunting and eating meat, hunting has become a part of how our brains are wired. That means hunting can be an essential part of growing up.
And that's why hunting is part of the program at a boot camp for troubled boys in Idaho. They go out into the wild with nothing but a pocketknife and a sleeping bag. And if they don't hunt, or gather, or find something—they don't eat!
One troubled boy in the program had beaten a man almost to death. Well, even juvenile delinquents get hungry. So he hunted, and stalked, and killed, and ate a ground squirrel.
But he learned a lot more than how to fend for himself. For the first time he understood the value of an animal's life, and the value of his own. He realized that the choices he makes affect everyone around him.
This experience changed his life. He didn't get into trouble any more. Neither did most of the other boys in the program. A year later, 9 out of 10 boys had stayed out of trouble.
Dr. Eaton's research is far from unique. Even Time magazine agrees. They talked to a psychologist at the FBI. She said, "I can't think of any cases where hunting has been a factor in human violence."
The National School Safety Center says: "The notion that anyone who hunts is violent is nonsense. There is no reason to condemn hunting."
The U.S. Department of Justice agreed. They did a study on over 4,000 juveniles. They found that young people who get firearms from parents are less likely to commit crime. Kids who grow up around firearms are more law-abiding than kids who don't grow up around firearms.
In fact, Time magazine admitted, now this is Time magazine, ladies and gentlemen! They admitted that teachers and counselors agree: “Kids who are taught to hunt are generally the more mature, better-mannered, and saner adolescents in America!”
You know, I see that in so many things the NRA does. Like the high school sophomores and juniors who come to Washington, D.C. for leadership training through NRA's Youth Education Summit, the junior shooters at the National Matches, the thousands of young people who participate in YHEC—NRA's Youth Hunter Education Challenge.
I can't think of a more clean-cut, levelheaded bunch of young men and women. And you ladies and gentlemen make it all possible with your NRA membership. That's something to be proud of!
PETA hasn't done anything to make kids safer. But you have.
NRA gun safety and hunter education has made a remarkable difference. Gun accidents today are at the lowest rates ever recorded.
Hunters are safer, too. In fact, hunting accidents have gone down by two-thirds in the last five years alone.
PETA didn't do that! You did! And that's something to be proud of!
Let me take you back to the story in Wisconsin and the Hunter's Wall.
You know what that school principal did? He told PETA they were wrong. Even though he didn't hunt and had never even fired a gun, the principal refused to be bullied. He refused to take down the Hunter's Wall.
He told PETA that hunting teaches kids to be safe around firearms. He told PETA that kids who hunt are the least violent people in the country.
Ladies and gentlemen, you need to do what that principal did with PETA, because day and night, year after year, they're brainwashing our kids. They're teaching America's future leaders that your rights are wrong.
They're doing all they can to drive your traditions to extinction. Watch for them. Stand up to them. Call them out on their lies. Never let them tear down your Hunter's Wall!
In fact, strengthen that wall, and keep PETA on the other side of it. Reinforce that wall, expand that wall and safeguard that wall so that twenty, fifty, a hundred years from now this room may still be filled with hunters like you.
Thank you very much!