Fudd Fury

May 15, 2018

Our friend and colleague Dave Workman calls it “Fudd Fury”  - and he’s on target in his description of the response to a thinly-disguised gun control wish list appearing in the Huffington Post under the byline of former U.S. Fish & Wildlife director Dan Ashe. 

The real scorcher to gun owners is the fact that Ashe is joined by not one or two, but about a dozen other names you might recognize -if you’re old enough. They include a trio of former Outdoor Writers Association of America presidents (Jim Lowe, Joel Vance and Rich Patterson) and “former gun dealer” Mike Furtman.

If you’re up on outdoor history, you’ll recognize some of the names from the schism that split OWAA a decade ago. It led to the formation of the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA).  The OWAA/POMA split killed many friendships and is still a very sore point with members of both groups.

Ashe’s letter (you can read it for yourself here at: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-ashe-guns-hunting_us_5af04b20e4b041fd2d28bd88) tries to make the case that additional gun controls are needed to curb gun violence. It also advances some ideas that could have been lifted directly from any anti-gun groups’ talking points.

If this group got their wishes, anyone on the “no-fly list” would be banned from owning firearms, despite the fact the government can’t give a clear definition of just how anyone gets on that list. They also want to disqualify anyone on Social Security disability due to a mental illness - another open-ended classification. 

Here come the easy-to-predict “common sense steps”: a prohibition on new sales of semiautomatic assault or tactical-style weapons, a ban on semiautomatic rifles or shotguns (except for .22 rimfire) that can hold more than 10 rounds, the prohibition of any direct private sales, mandatory and universal background checks, and the enactment of gun violence restraining orders.

Sound familiar? It should, you’ve been hearing the same lines droned by  Charles Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Michael Bloomberg and every time someone goes to a “gun free zone” and commits mass murder.

But the tenth point - a call for repeal of the “Dickey ban” on scientific research in the area of gun violence and implementation of the Institute of Medicine’s 2013 “gun violence research agenda” pretty much seals the deal as to where this group stands on the idea of gun rights.

They categorize the “suggestions” as “simple to implement and enforce”  - and they readily  admit they “limit the rights of honest and law-abiding citizens”. At the same time, they call them “responsible limitations that do not infringe the ability of Americans to hunt, shoot or protect themselves and their families.”

As Dave Workman wrote (https://conservativefiringline.com/fudd-fury-tempers-flare-over-huffpo-open-letter-on-guns-hunting/), their comments are the ultimate examples of what shooters derisively call “Fudds” - people who own guns for hunting, but don’t think the Second Amendment is an insurance policy against government tyranny.

Fudds are the same people who would ban anything except what they like and use

You know the type, they readily tell you: “I don’t need an (fast car, airplane, boat, ATV, bicycle), and I don’t see what anyone else would need with them.”

Response has been…direct. And I’m not the first (nor second) person to question their thinking- or their intent. They’ve damaged their entire industry via their questionably motivated missive. 

In fact, Michael Bane was quick to point out that by citing their credentials and accomplishments in OWAA, the group implied that OWAA endorses their position. 

OWAA says it doesn’t. But the wording took didn’t do much to sell that position.

Their response says OWAA “respects the rights of all its individuals to express their opinions, but as an organization of professional communicators, we avoid advocacy on issues on issues not related to journalism.”

It ends with this: “Some OWAA members may agree with points made in the letter. Some may not. But the letter’s content does not represent OWAA policy.”

As one journalists response said, “Would OWAA’s response be so milquetoast if the letter writers were a group of like-minded OWAA members in support of the NRA and touted their OWAA affiliation in the first graf? I think we know the answer.”

Unfortunately, history doesn’t do much to refute that argument.

One of our colleagues is very familiar with both organizations. Jim Casada has many of the same honors as the “distinguished signees” on Dan Ashe’s letter, but his position is decidedly different. 

“I feel completely comfortable in saying that many of these individuals, and certainly the mindset they represent, were directly responsible for destroying OWAA as it once was,” Casada wrote. “…they didn’t see it as destruction but rather as a much-needed purge of unwashed elements who held conservative views not only on guns but much more. I was one of that group of 500 or so unwashed and perhaps had a bit more skin in the game than most simply because I had served the organization as a board member and officer. I also fought the whole condemnation of the NRA which tore OWAA apart tooth and nail. I failed and, never mind the fact that I was a past president and recipient of OWAA’s highest service award, abandoned my membership. I remain staunchly convinced, as much as it hurt, that I did the right thing.”

The furor doesn’t seem to be abating among outdoor communicators, and has already begun to spread to the people whose opinions matter the most to organizations like OWAA: corporate sponsors. 

We’ve already heard from gun companies that are weighing options on this one. The first option being weighed isn’t “stay or go” - it’s “do we go first, or wait for someone else to announce their pull out.” Today’s managers have learned from experience that a failure to condemn this kind of rhetoric inflames pro-Second Amendment supporters. And a failure to act is often taken as tacit approval. 

Meanwhile, the authors of the op-ed have doubled down on their positions, making it clear that they aren’t willing to reconsider their positions. 

When the original OWAA battle began a decade ago, I made the decision not to cover it because at the time I believed, incorrectly, that it was “too inside baseball” to matter to people not inside the industry. Today, I realize that every position matters when it comes to the Second Amendment- and actions that would dilute it threaten every gun owner- whether they realize it or not.

It’s a pretty safe assumption that the war of words that had inflamed passions, fractured friendships and split partnerships a decade ago has heated up again.

This time, we’ll keep you posted.

—Jim Shepherd