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Just how different is the election this time around? Well, for one thing, the presidential candidates are tramping around rural states thumping their chests and boasting they’ve gutted more deer and bagged more pheasants than their rival, and anti-gun congressmen have suddenly become gun-shy. Just four years ago, then-candidate Vice President Al Gore, in an interview in Outdoor Life, wouldn’t even answer the questions “Do you hunt? Do you fish?” On the eve of the last presidential election, anti-gunners in the Democratic Party would never have stood by and watched as the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban expired. How times have changed…or have they?

Socrates knew of what he spoke when he said to the Athenian Senate, “I’m too honest to be a politician,” just before it voted 360 to 141 to put him to death. Politicians have to be fluid with their positions because they have to appeal to a majority of their constituents. The candidates know that the “swing” states will determine the next president and which party will have the majority in Congress, and that those states-Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Arkansas among them-are loaded with sportsmen. Consequently, Senator John Kerry made sure a camera caught him when he went pheasant hunting last fall, and President Bush went on Fishing with Roland Martin on the Outdoor Life Network. It’s also why some politicians have suddenly become shy when the question of gun control pops up.

Despite all of this posturing, we found ways to see through the rhetoric of every incumbent Congressman up for reelection on Tuesday, November 2. This voter guide will give you an idea of which congressmen would reduce pollutants so you can actually eat the fish you catch, and which would give oil companies the deed to your public lands. It will also give you an idea whether your representatives think auto-loading shotguns should be classified as “assault weapons” and banned, or whether they believe the Second Amendment guarantees the individual’s right to keep and bear arms.

In 2000, anti-gunners grew bold within the Democratic Party. Moms marched under banners of Handgun Control in the capitol and a post-Columbine nation seemed poised to force gun owners to register all firearms in a national database. As a result, NRA membership hit a record high and sportsmen flooded to the polls-fear is a great motivator. This reaction to the anti-gun rhetoric is why guns don’t seem to be an issue in this election. Eric Howard, spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said as much: “The modus operandi of the [BRACKET “anti”] gun lobby is to keep the discussion down.” And Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, agreed. “The Democrats have decided that the stove is still hot and they don’t want to get burned again,” he said. If Democrats can neutralize Republicans’ advantage with gun owners, argued Mark Penn, a Democratic pollster who was a key architect of Bill Clinton’s winning message in two presidential elections, as many as 21 percent of swing voters could come their way.

Where They Stand
Key to the Charts

To help you know where your senators and representatives stand, we researched how they voted on key issues, whether or not they’re members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus and which organizations are giving them money. Here’s a key to answers 1 through 7.

**1. “Y” **indicates that the congressman is a member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (see “An Army on the Hill,” page 66).

**2. **Initials indicate organizations from which the candidates have received donations (based on FEC disclosures as of Aug. 2, 2004). Pro-hunting or pro-gun groups: GWC (Green Worlds Coalition Fund); NRA (National Rifle Association); SCI (Safari Club International). Anti-hunting or anti-gun groups: BC (Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, formerly Handgun ntrol Inc.); LCV (League of Conservation Voters); SC (Sierra Club). (See “Follow the Money,” page 68.)

3. “Y” indicates that the congressman voted for the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (H.R. 1904), a bill designed to actively manage forests on public land to prevent uncontrollable fires (see “To Cut or Not to Cut,” page 70).

4. HOUSE: “Y” indicates that the congressman voted for the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a bill to prevent lawsuits from holding firearms manufacturers liable for the criminal misuse of legal products. senate: “Y” indicates a co-sponsor of the act (see “Biggest Loss to Gunmakers,” page 68).

5. HOUSE: “Y” indicates that the congressman signed a letter in support of increased funding for NAWCA (see “Ante Up for Conservation,” page 70). senate: “Y” indicates a yes on a roll-call vote on the Feinstein Amendment (“Assault Weapons” Ban Extension). (See “Judging by Appearances,” page 70.)

**6. HOUSE: “Y” **indicates that the congressman voted for “Don’t Feed the Bears” (H.R. 1472) an anti-hunting bill designed to curb bear hunting. It was defeated on the House floor by a vote of 163-255 (see “Biggest Attack on Hunting Rights,” page 70). senate: “Y” indicates that the senator voted for the McCain-Reed Amendment to close the so-called “gun show loophole” (No. 2636). The addition of this amendment to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act helped kill the bill.

7. HOUSE: “Y” indicates that the congressman voted to stop the U.S. Park Service and the U.S Forest Service from controlling the bison herd in and around Yellowstone National Park. The amendment failed by 199-220.

[pagebreak] Presidential Candidates
SENATOR JOHN KERRY During a campaign stop in Iowa, Kerry was photographed pheasant hunting, killing two birds. He clearly understands the importance of showing his interest in hunting, but what’s his record on guns?

The National Rifle Association gives Kerry an “F” rating and noted that he voted 51 of 55 times against the interests of gun owners while serving in the U.S. Senate. Kerry and Senator John Edwards were absent for a lot of votes as they campaigned for the Democratic nomination this year, but they both returned to Washington to vote for two amendments-a renewal of the Assault Weapons Ban and the closing of the so-called “gun show loophole”-that killed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a bill that would halt lawsuits attempting to hold firearms manufacturers accountable for illegal misuse of legal products.

Kerry is also a co-sponsor of S.1431 (titled the Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2003). This bill would vest power in the U.S. Attorney General to ban semi-automatic rifles and shotguns “originally designed for military or law enforcement use”-arms that are presumed to be “not particularly suitable for sporting purposes.” This could be interpreted to include some hunting guns; the bill lists the Ruger Mini-14 as a banned assault weapon.

Okay, so Kerry is hardly pro-gun. What about hunting?

Kerry is one of the 40 U.S. Senators who is not a member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus. In 1994, Kerry led the opposition to a provision in the Marine Mammal Protection Act that allowed for the importation of legally killed polar bears. In 1999, Kerry voted to ban trapping on National Wildlife Refugees. For his record in the 108th Congress, Kerry was given a 100 percent score from the Humane Society of the United States, the largest anti-hunting group in the country. (The group does not rate Presidents, and had yet to make an endorsement as of press time.)

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH The Bush administration has officially stated that the Second Amendment upholds an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. Bush, however, said earlier this year that he would sign an extension of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. As of press time, Congress was seemingly going to let the bill sunset in September.

Despite his stated willingness to sign it, Bush isn’t likely to push for any anti-gun legislation. But what about hunting?

Last spring, President Bush took leaders of the conservation community on a tour of his ranch to show them his bass pond and his managed quail habitat. Bush was planning on weakening the Clean Water Act, but that same group of conservation leaders successfully lobbied and convinced him to commit to “no net loss of wetlands.” Under Bush’s watch the National Wildlife Refuge System has opened more than 10 refuges to sportsmen. And the most recent Farm Bill and Highway Bill, both of which Bush signed, vastly expand conservation programs.

Bush is a resource developer, having increased logging and oil and gas exploration on public lands. He pushed for oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but that proposal was defeated by Congress. Bush’s Healthy Forests Restoration Act, however, can benefit wildlife through smart forest management, with measures such as selective cutting. Further defining their stances on this issue, Kerry and Bush take opposite sides on President Clinton’s moratorium on new logging roads in National Forests. Kerry says he would reinstate all roadless areas, while the Bush administration has made it easier to log some areas.

[pagebreak] An Army on the Hill
The most astounding thing about the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC), which is administered by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, is that it’s only 15 years old. In just the past year, the CSC’s 324 members in Congress have rallied to defeat an amendment designed to limit bear hunting on federal lands, fought to pass The Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HR 1904), and expanded the Conservation Reserve Program.

That said, membership is not all we need to know about an incumbent. Membership in a caucus does not require members to vote any particular way and the CSC doesn’t take a position on the Second Amendment. As a result, there are a few in its ranks who use membership to gain your favor. A look at how they voted will help you decide whether they’re just playing politics or deserve your support. (The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance has been tracking the names of members of the CSC who vote against sportsmen’s interests. Check out www.ussportsmen.org for more.)

Follow the Money
This is a category that will really tell you something. Special-interest groups put their money where their mouths are. Thanks to www.opensecrets.org, we can easily determine what group is giving money to which candidate. See the charts to find out who in your congressional district is taking money from which group.

Here’s the basis of what each groign an extension of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. As of press time, Congress was seemingly going to let the bill sunset in September.

Despite his stated willingness to sign it, Bush isn’t likely to push for any anti-gun legislation. But what about hunting?

Last spring, President Bush took leaders of the conservation community on a tour of his ranch to show them his bass pond and his managed quail habitat. Bush was planning on weakening the Clean Water Act, but that same group of conservation leaders successfully lobbied and convinced him to commit to “no net loss of wetlands.” Under Bush’s watch the National Wildlife Refuge System has opened more than 10 refuges to sportsmen. And the most recent Farm Bill and Highway Bill, both of which Bush signed, vastly expand conservation programs.

Bush is a resource developer, having increased logging and oil and gas exploration on public lands. He pushed for oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but that proposal was defeated by Congress. Bush’s Healthy Forests Restoration Act, however, can benefit wildlife through smart forest management, with measures such as selective cutting. Further defining their stances on this issue, Kerry and Bush take opposite sides on President Clinton’s moratorium on new logging roads in National Forests. Kerry says he would reinstate all roadless areas, while the Bush administration has made it easier to log some areas.

[pagebreak] An Army on the Hill
The most astounding thing about the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC), which is administered by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, is that it’s only 15 years old. In just the past year, the CSC’s 324 members in Congress have rallied to defeat an amendment designed to limit bear hunting on federal lands, fought to pass The Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HR 1904), and expanded the Conservation Reserve Program.

That said, membership is not all we need to know about an incumbent. Membership in a caucus does not require members to vote any particular way and the CSC doesn’t take a position on the Second Amendment. As a result, there are a few in its ranks who use membership to gain your favor. A look at how they voted will help you decide whether they’re just playing politics or deserve your support. (The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance has been tracking the names of members of the CSC who vote against sportsmen’s interests. Check out www.ussportsmen.org for more.)

Follow the Money
This is a category that will really tell you something. Special-interest groups put their money where their mouths are. Thanks to www.opensecrets.org, we can easily determine what group is giving money to which candidate. See the charts to find out who in your congressional district is taking money from which group.

Here’s the basis of what each gro

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