PRO-GUN, ANTI-NRA

BAYOU DISPATCH: Pro Gun, Anti-NRA … A lifelong Republican, Korea vet, and former world-record holder in trap shooting (he broke 730 consecutive clay pigeons in 1967), Austin Dorr has nothing good to say about the NRA: ?They want to take me for granted, but don’t speak for me.?

Criticism of the NRA from within the hook-and-bullet community has lately been getting louder. Prominent hunting columnist Pat Wray recently blasted the organization for “hoodwinking hunters into thinking they are working on our behalf, while they use our money on politicians and legislative efforts which will degrade hunting, now and in the future.”

The NRA has between 3 and 4 million members. But there are between 77 and 90 million total gun-owners in the United States, according to varying industry estimates.

Of that total, 30 percent of gun-owners said they would support an alternative organization — if there was a viable group that would advocate gun rights and do more to support conservation and improved relations with law enforcement, according to a detailed poll of gun owners conducted in 2005 by KRC Research.

Now stepping into that space is the American Hunters and Shooters Association. The new group is “pro-gun, pro-conservation, pro-safety,” as executive director Robert Ricker explains. Ricker, a former NRA counsel and gun-industry advocate for two decades, became a whistleblower in 2003 when he gave testimony linking negligent industry behavior and gun sales to criminals.

The organization kicks off Sunday with its first press conference in Lake Charles, Louisiana, at the annual conference of the Outdoor Writers Association of America.

The NRA?s attack dogs are already out. John Lott is on the case. The stakes are high. For nearly three decades, conservatives have been able to use the issue of gun rights to drive a stake through potential alliances between hunters and greens, tilting American politics and undermining resource protections. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: I’m blogging from Lake Charles & willl have more later on controversy here, John Lott’s allegations … maybe cajun recipes, if I’m lucky.