John McCain on Sportsmen’s Issues

Land Access OL: Let's talk about land access. This is a huge issue. More and more Outdoor Life readers feel like they're being shut out. If you're elected President, what steps will you take to open more lands to sportsmen? McCain: I'd push legislation for multiple use. The majority of people who hunt and fish are the most responsible stewards of the land, because they value it the most. When we see destruction, a lot of times it is from people who are not hunters or fishermen. Nobody cherishes the beauty of America and its great habitats and its places for recreation like those who use it. And that's hunters and fishermen. So I would do everything in my power to develop more policies that arrange for responsible multiple use. And I emphasize responsible. People shouldn't be fishing without a license in my view. Ben Baker
Why Vote McCain? OL: Why should hunters and fishermen vote for John McCain? McCain: Because I have consistently supported their issues. I have expanded our National Parks. I have put areas into permanent protection that otherwise would have been developed or degraded to the point where the environment would not be conducive to the kind of quality hunting and fishing that we have in Arizona. I come from a state that is experiencing explosive growth. We all know that. We have to have areas that are available for hunting and fishing and the kind of recreation that made my state the treasure that it is. And I will continue those policies. Look at my record. Ben Baker
Do You Hunt? Do You Fish? OL: Do you hunt and do you fish? McCain: I don't hunt; I do fish. I've handled weapons in my life, beginning back at the Naval Academy, when we would get on the rifle and pistol range. I haven't had much of a chance from a time standpoint, but I do fish all the time. Ben Baker
Second Amendment OL: _How do you interpret the Second Amendment? And if you're elected President, what steps will you take to protect our rights to keep and bear firearms?_ McCain: I will continue to fight back efforts to weaken the Second Amendment. One of the efforts, as you know, that we were able to stymie recently was the effort to bring frivolous lawsuits against gun manufacturers. If we had allowed that to happen, if we hadn't enacted legislation to stop it, they would have just sued the gun manufacturers out of business. We all know that. I was also one of fifty-five senators that filed an Amicus Brief with the United States Supreme Court concerning the gun ban in Washington, D.C. I have been a consistent supporter of the Second Amendment. It means to me what it says: Every citizen has the right to keep and bear arms. And so I am a consistent supporter. I obviously support, as the NRA has, more effective instant background checks, and efforts to keep weapons from the hands of criminals and those who have mental disabilities that we would not want to have weapons. And I believe the NRA has done a good job in increasing our capability to check on these individuals. I'm proud of my long record, and I have a record, and it's very different from that of Senator Obama. Ben Baker
Assault Weapons Ban OL: The Assault Weapons Ban– you voted against it. But you also said you might be open to voting for an assault weapons ban, depending on the details. Do you know any details that would support that argument? McCain: No, because a lot of these are weapons that people use for sport, for practice and for enjoyment- outdoor enjoyment. So no, I don't see a scenario where that would be the case. I'm sure maybe we could draw one. But the danger of an assault weapons ban spilling into weapons that people would use for everyday hunting is, I think, the challenge. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Grain vs. CRP OL: Given the rising world demand for food and a rising call for more corn production for ethanol as an alternative fuel source, this year millions of acres of land that's formerly been in the Conservation Reserve Program may fall under the plow. As President, how would you address this critical loss of habitat? McCain: By enacting conservation measures that would preserve the pristine beauty of America. At the same time, provisions for hunting and camping use of these public lands has to be a part of that. I'm proud of many of the issues that we have been a part of in Arizona to allow permanent preservations. Some of these areas are going to have permanent preservation and others have to be addressed in a different fashion. I opposed the ethanol subsidies. It distorted the market. It incentivized farmers to go out and grow corn or destroy areas that otherwise would be used for recreational purposes. I think that the subsidies for ethanol have directly affected the price of corn. OL: Would you consider raising subsidies to keep more land in Conservation Reserve Programs? McCain: Absolutely. That is one area that I think is a good part of the Farm Bill. I oppose the Farm Bill. I think it's outrageous that we're going to subsidize very rich people and we're going to encourage further destruction of areas that should be kept in a pristine status. And by the way, there are billions of dollars that people who hunt and fish contribute to the Treasury of the United States of America in the form of licenses, in the form of permits, in the form of taxes. So this is also an economic issue. Ben Baker
Fisheries Management OL:The collapse of the West Coast salmon fishery will have a huge economic impact. What steps should the federal government take to help keep our salmon stocks vibrant and recovering? McCain: There's no one solution to this problem. I believe that we need to provide more accessibility for salmon to get back to their spawning grounds. And if that requires temporarily constructing spillways and things like that during their season to get up over these dams, I think we're all in favor of that. I do believe that we can use modern technology to do a lot more to make the salmon able to return to their spawning grounds. Ben Baker
Hunting in National Parks OL: In talking about the sort of multiple use concept that you just referred to, if hunting licenses were issued on a controlled basis or a draw basis, would you ever consider allowing sport hunting to take place in a National Park, such as Yellowstone, where we have a huge overabundance of elk that's really harming habitat there? McCain: Yes, I do believe that we could have environmentalists as well as people who are in the hunting and fishing business sit down to work this out. For example, there are people, environmental organizations, who have bought land around the Grand Canyon to expand the boundaries of the Grand Canyon and protect it. And there's been negotiations going on with them for raising cattle on some of that land. I think that the process of negotiations has to go forward, and I believe you're seeing in America less extremist positions and more of a coming together. I would involve the environmental community. Outdoor Life Online Editor

OL Editor-In-Chief Todd Smith sat down with Presidential candidate John McCain to get his views on issues critical to hunters and fishermen. Here’s McCain take on: