Addressing an audience of 1,300 hunters and anglers via satellite on National Hunting & Fishing Day, Republican Sen. John McCain warned sportsmen attending a U.S. Sportsman’s Alliance “Save Our Heritage” Rally in Columbus, Ohio, that they shouldn’t believe Democrat Barack Obama when he says he supports gun rights.

“If Senator Obama is elected president, the rights of law-abiding gun owners will be at risk,” said McCain, who called himself a “committed conservationist” and avid angler, admitting that he does not hunt but “give(s) ground to no one in my defense of the Second Amendment.”

Working the Ohio-based crowd, McCain reminded them of Obama’s comments at a California fund-raiser in April, when Obama said that the economic climate has led to people in small towns in Ohio and Pennsylvania to “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them.”

McCain called the comments “unguarded” and said that they “reflect the common Washington view that the Second Amendment is a quaint custom that must now yield to the judgment of modern enlightened opinion” and that the words made it clear that, if elected, Obama would support gun control.

McCain’s remarks to the hook-and-bullet-friendly crowd over the weekend were predictable, according to Obama’s camp. At an appearance in Ohio earlier this month, regarding Republicans’ attempts to garner support from sportsmen, the Illinois senator said: “They’re going to say ‘He’s going to try to take away your guns.’

“Let’s get the record straight,” said Obama. “I believe in the Second Amendment. Nobody who’s a hunter out here or a sportsman needs to worry about their guns in an Obama administration.”—Dan Armitage