By the time you read this on the West Coast, firearms industry officials will be fully involved in an event in Washington that's the official kickoff of a concerted effort to support the National Rifle Association through the active enrollment of people inside the shooting industry. In turn, the NRA will, once again, do the heavy lifting involved in defending the industry from those who seek to disarm the citizenry through various bits of political, legislative and judicial chicanery. The membership kickoff (scheduled for 10:30 a.m. in the Presidential Ballroom of the Washington Hilton) is only one element of the weekend celebration of American values event, but it's the main event for the firearms industry. It's an opportunity for the firearms industry to hear from the lips of various presidential candidates (although some lips are on videotape) why they are the strongest supporter of the Second Amendment from among the 1,323 Republican presidential candidates. That strong Second Amendment stance, incidentally, is deserving of their support - meaning votes and money. After all, the NRA is a heavyweight when it comes to political clout. It promises to be an interesting cattle call. The candidates and other notables, including former high-ranking government officials, will all be there. Although I haven't seen their speeches, I'd imagine they're going to be pretty formulaic. The various candidates will say that, "at times, we may have had some differences of opinion " regarding various sub topics of the firearms issue; but ultimately we're all strong, solid Americans who know (your candidate's name here) will defend to the death the entire Constitution and Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment." In other words, "I'll promise you anything if you'll support me." In this case, the word "sucker" is implied, although not stated. It will be interesting to see the reception one staunch defender of the Second Amendment - one Rudolph W. Giuliani, former Mayor of New York - receives. While I'm certain his people are hoping he is remembered as the Mayor of 9/11, there's a good chance he'll be remembered as the man who penned these words in 2000: "this is an industry which profits from the suffering of innocent people." Those words were how he explained a lawsuit he introduced in 2000 that he said was "an aggressive step to "end the free pas that the gun industry has enjoyed for a very long time, which has resulted in too-many avoidable deaths." Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit is still trying to decide if that lawsuit can proceed despite the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Firearms Act's passage. That measure, incidentally, was designed to give gun makers some protection from lawsuits like Giuliani's. Incidentally, a spokesperson for Giuliani's campaign declined to tell say whether Giuliani still supports the lawsuit or goals he laid out so clearly in 2000. Like I said, it should be an interesting session, if only for the skill demonstrated in sidestepping direct questions on issues that should be pivotal to the industry -and anyone who owns a firearm and isn't either in law enforcement or the military. Tomorrow, fortunately, is one of those days set aside to celebrate the fact that, lawsuits like Giuliani's aside, we are still a society that embraces fishing and hunting. Not as many people may participate as did decades past, but the vast majority of Americans still support hunting and fishing. They, unlike those environmentalists and anti-firearms groups, also recognize the fact that, were it not for hunters and anglers, many of the species these groups say are at-risk due to hunting and fishing, would not exist. The proceeds from hunting and fishing have funded most of the major wildlife initiatives in this country. In short, without hunters and anglers' dollars, much of the wildlife they're accused of trying to eliminate wouldn't exist. By comparison, the contributions of those groups who would seek to limit - or eliminate - hunting and fishing are insignificant. This weekend, Washington events aside, it is only fitting and proper that we observe National Hunting & Fishing Day by, well, hunting and fishing where appropriate. It would also be appropriate that we all make the effort to introduce someone new to either - or both. That would be a significant contribution to America's hunting and fishing heritage - and a gift that would keep on giving. Get out there and enjoy your weekend.
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