Barack Obama on Sportsmen's Issues

Barack Obama was unable to do an in-person or phone interview with OL, so we submitted our questions on sportsmen's issues to him in writing. **Does Barack Obama hunt or fish? ** OL: Senator Obama, since Outdoor Life is all about hunting and fishing, the first thing our readers are going to want to know is:
Do you hunt?
 OBAMA: No.  OL: Do you fish? When you're in the South Side of Chicago, there's not too many opportunities for hunting and fishing. When I was a kid, I grew up in Hawaii, and I would go fishing with my grandfather. And when I got older, actually, we did spearfishing there, which was sort of a combination of hunting and fishing. We would snorkel and use a speargun. And some of my best memories are going down there with friends of mine. In Illinois, I haven't gone hunting and fishing.  OL: Do you own any firearms? What are they?  OBAMA: No.  OL: If "no", then why are you courting sportsmen?  OBAMA: While I did not grow up hunting and fishing, I recognize the great conservation legacy of America's hunters and anglers. Were it not for America's hunters and anglers, including the great icons like Theodore Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold, our nation would not have the tradition of sound game management and an extensive public lands estate on which to hunt and fish. There are close to 40 million Americans who hunt and fish. Hunting and Fishing plays an important part in our economy and our heritage as a nation. I am courting sportsmen because my policies, actions and decisions as President will advance the goals of hunters and anglers.
Kevin Craiglow
**2nd Amendment and Assault Weapons ** OL: A candidate's position on the 2nd amendment is extremely important to Outdoor Life readers. How do you interpret the 2nd Amendment? Â OBAMA: I have always believed the Constitution confers an individual right to bear arms, not just a right of militias as some have argued. Â OL: And if you are elected president, what steps will you take to protect the right to keep and bear arms? Â OBAMA: I will uphold my Oath of Office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, which, of course, includes the 2nd Amendment. I will prohibit the confiscation of legally acquired firearms, and defend the rights of Americans to own and use guns. Â Â OL: Following the Supreme Court's recent ruling on the 2nd amendment, you were quoted as saying: "As President, I will uphold the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun-owners, hunters, and sportsmen. I know that what works in Chicago may not work in Cheyenne." How can you support the 2nd amendment yet ask that it be applied in different ways for the people of Chicago and the people of Cheyenne? Please explain. Â OBAMA: I believe that the Constitution confers an individual right to bear arms under the 2nd Amendment. It's important to keep in mind what the Supreme Court said in its recent ruling. Justice Scalia, who wrote the Court's opinion, said, "The right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited." The 2nd Amendment does not constrain a state or local government's ability to make sure criminals don't have guns and that the mentally ill aren't buying handguns. This right is not unlimited in the same manner that the Constitution confers private property rights, but local governments can establish zoning ordinances. I think we can provide common-sense approaches to the issue of illegal guns that are ending up on the streets, while ensuring that sportsmen, and law-abiding gun owners' rights to bear arms are protected. Â Â OL: Your record indicates that you strongly favor strict gun control in the United States. If elected president, will you push to permanently reinstate the Assault Weapons ban? If so, why? Â OBAMA: I don't agree with the premise of your question. It is not correct to say that I "strongly favor strict gun control." I favor a common sense approach to guns that respects the right to bear arms, and allows local areas to put in place regulations aimed at protecting citizens. What works in New York City may not work in Wyoming. Â I believe that the federal government should protect the rights of law abiding Americans to own and use guns to hunt, target shoot, protect their families and for other purposes. That said, I don't think that AK-47s should be in the hands of criminals on our city streets. Â Â OL: You and your opponent supported legislation that would close the so-called "gun show loophole" and make it illegal for individuals to privately sell firearms without doing a background check. Is that still your position? Why? Â OBAMA: Yes. This common-sense step will ensure that the same background checks already required for purchasing guns from a licensed dealer are also required for sellers at gun shows. I don't believe that criminals or the mentally ill should be able to acquire guns at gun shows that they wouldn't otherwise be able to acquire at a gun store.Outdoor Life Online Editor
**Grain vs. CRP ** OL: Given the rising world demand for food and corn for ethanol, millions of acres of land that has formerly been enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program will be cultivated. As President, how would you address this critical loss of habitat? Would you consider raising subsidies to keep more land in CRP? Â OBAMA: I will fight to increase funding for the Conservation Security Program and the major set-aside programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, and Grasslands Reserve Program, so that rental rates can compete with rising commodity prices. Unlike Senator McCain, I supported the Farm Bill which is the single most important piece of private land conservation legislation considered by this Congress. ÂGetty Images
**Fisheries Management and Conservation ** OL: It's been said that the collapse of the West Coast ocean salmon fishery (a $150-million industry) may be a graver threat to our economy than the Bear Stearns collapse. What steps should the federal government take to help salmon stocks recover? Â OBAMA: Implementing a meaningful salmon population recovery plan will be a key environmental priority of my administration, and I support efforts to create a salmon recovery plan that balances all of the important environmental, agricultural and renewable energy interests. Â OL: In a broader sense, how, if you are elected President, would you balance conservation with the social and economic benefits of fishing to create more successful fisheries management? Â OBAMA: Clearly our current fisheries management is not working. Many of our fish stocks are depleted and in fact this year salmon fishing was closed on parts of the West Coast. Sport and commercial fisherman need a greater say in land and water management decisions. I am concerned that the recreational, social and economic benefits of fishing are not being given adequate representation and weight in many of our nation's land and water management decisions. As President, I will work to give fishermen a greater voice in order to improve fisheries management. Â Â OL: With commercial overharvest and rising pollution and development, ocean fishing stocks are declining. What would you do to protect these fisheries for sport fishermen? Â OBAMA: You are correct that overharvest, pollution and development are causing many of our fish stocks to become severely depleted. We've had major new coastal development in recent decades, along with significant ocean pollution. I plan to crack down on polluters and improve the water quality in our oceans. My goal will be to maintain and enhance healthy habitats and fish populations to sustain and increase fishing opportunities. Â One especially disturbing example is the major decline in Atlantic bluefin tuna. U.S. fishermen abide by some of the strongest conservation requirements in the world, and both recreational and commercial fishermen have come together to battle widespread overharvesting of Atlantic bluefin tuna. My Administration will take a tough line in meetings with other nations on behalf of conservation, and will be prepared to press our trans-Atlantic partners to reduce the take in international waters. ÂOutdoor Life Online Editor
**The Environment ** OL: ****With oil and gas prices at an all-time high, how, specifically, will you balance America's need to develop our own resources with protecting wildlife habitat? OBAMA: I have developed a comprehensive energy plan that will develop our own resources while increasing protections for wildlife habitat. Specifically, my plan will: • Provide short-term relief to American families facing pain at the pump. • Help create five million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next ten years to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future. • Within 10 years save more oil than we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela combined. • Put 1 million Plug-In Hybrid cars -- cars that can get up to 150 miles per gallon -- on the road by 2015, cars that we will work to make sure are built here in America. • Ensure 10 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025. • Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. Fish and Wildlife habitat has not been adequately considered in our current oil and gas leasing and drilling program on public lands We need to increase safeguards for fish and wildlife habitat, ensure access for hunters and anglers, and improve mitigation and reclamation so that we develop our oil and gas resources more responsibly.   OL: How will you be a leader for environmental change?  OBAMA: I will address the major threats to our environment: climate change, habitat loss, and pollution. Because our dependence on oil has led to many of our environmental problems, I will put America on the path to a new energy economy that reduces the threat of global warming and protects our nation's wildlife habitat.  I will not put lobbyists in charge of regulating polluters. I will appoint qualified individuals to key positions in my administration with responsibilities concerning our environment, and I will encourage Americans to place a greater priority on conservation and environmental protection. ÂOutdoor Life Online Editor
** Land Access ** OL: Access to land for hunting and fishing is dwindling. More and more Outdoor Life readers feel that they're being "shut out." If you are elected president, what steps will you take to open more lands to sportsmen? Â OBAMA: I recognize that the loss of access to land for hunting and fishing is one of the most important issues facing sportsmen today. I will increase access to land for hunting and fishing. Specifically, I will ensure funding to purchase land and easements to guarantee sportsmen's access. I support the Open Fields initiative which provides new access to land. I will provide incentives to farmers and ranchers who voluntarily open their land to hunting and fishing. I will oppose efforts to sell-off and subdivide public lands, which leads to a loss of access for sportsmen. Â Â OL: If hunting licenses were issued on a controlled or draw basis, would you consider allowing hunting to take place in National Parks such as Yellowstone, where overpopulation of elk is clearly an issue? Â OBAMA: I generally oppose hunting in National Parks. I support hunting on National Forests, National Preserves, on Bureau of Land Management Lands (including lands within the National Landscape Conservation System) and on National Wildlife Refuges. In places like Rocky Mountain National Park, where there is a clear overpopulation of elk, and the National Park Service is considering using paid marksmen to reduce the elk population, I think it is worth exploring the potential for allowing limited hunting. ÂGetty Images
**Hunting and Fishing Heritage ** OL: To the readers of Outdoor Life, hunting and fishing are an important part of their American heritage. In light of the pressure for more gun control, anti-hunting lobbies and the continual loss of land on which to pursue hunting and fishing, how, if you become president, will you protect this hunting and fishing heritage of ours? Â OBAMA: I will maintain our public lands estate, guaranteeing a place to hunt and fish for future generations. I will protect gun rights, increase access for hunting and fishing, and work to end the steady loss of wetlands and other important fish and wildlife habitat. Â We need new generations of sportsmen to maintain hunting and fishing traditions, conduct important conservation projects and support our states' fish and wildlife programs. I will enhance programs to encourage youth to participate in outdoor activities and learn hunting, fishing, and conservation skills. Â ÂOutdoor Life Online Editor
** Why Vote Obama? ** OL: The Congressional Sportsman's Foundation says there are 38 million hunters and fishermen in America. Why should sportsmen vote for Barack Obama? Â OBAMA: Sportsmen should support my candidacy because my policies, actions and decisions as President will advance the goals of hunters and anglers. I have comprehensive plans to expand access for hunting and fishing, protect and restore public and private lands and waters, and honor and maintain America's outdoor and hunting and fishing heritage. I have also received the endorsement of the American Hunters and Shooters Association (AHSA). Â Successful hunting and fishing depends on quality habitat, well managed wildlife and clean water. Ensuring the conservation of our nation's natural resources, and making certain land and wildlife management decisions are based on sound science will be a hallmark of my Administration's conservation policy. Â I know that gun rights are extremely important to sportsmen. I will protect the rights of hunters and other law-abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport, and use guns. I ask for your support for my candidacy for President. Together we can ensure that America's hunting, fishing and conservation traditions continue for generations to come.Outdoor Life Online Editor
**John McCain on Sportsmen's Issues ** **To hear John McCain's answers to these questions, CLICK HERE**Outdoor Life Online Editor

Barack Obama was unable to do an in-person or phone interview with OL, so we submitted our questions on sportsmen's issues to him in writing. For his exclusive answers, click here.