I bet that got your attention. I thought I’d take a page from the NRA playbook. They figured out long ago, and quite effectively, that the best way to get what you want (or block what you don’t) is by terrifying people and making every issue about something it isn’t.
That’s exactly what they’ve just done again with the Judiciary Committee passage last week of Senate Bill 626, which would ban block and tethered shoots of non-game birds in Pennsylvania. They take a half-hearted stab at standing up for the shoots themselves. Then they go right into the claims of all the things that SB 626 is supposedly all about. They proclaim it is a stealth proxy war on, well, on just about everything.
According to the NRA, this bill is about more than pigeons. It’s about dove hunting in Michigan, bear hunting in Maine and New Jersey, hunting in national parks. I had no idea the Pennsylvania legislature could write laws for New Jersey, Michigan, Maine and the federal government! But the NRA seems to think we can, so it must be true. Let’s start with annexing Acadia National Park. I love that place!
They claim that this is an effort to end Pheasant stocking in Pennsylvania. We must be reading different bills because the SB 626 I just re-read specifically exempts game birds. Maybe they don’t know what a pheasant is.
They lay the blame for this effort to ban the unsporting farces that are pigeon shoots on “radical” national groups. If that’s so, I’ve been paying my State and local taxes to the wrong place. I thought the Humane Society of Berks County was a private, independent charity formed in 1900 and proudly based in Berks County, PA. The funny thing is, the NRA is itself a national group based in Fairfax, Virginia. They must feel so conflicted. That’s a mere George Washington stone’s throw from Washington, D.C. Maybe it’s that proximity to D.C. that makes the NRA so out of touch with what Pennsylvanians want.
And after all that misdirection and fear mongering, they provide the coup de grace: they encourage people to call their Senators on the next Committee to hear the SB 626. Not to oppose passage of the bill or to defend pigeon shoots. No, they want us to tell our Senators that “Pennsylvania has many longstanding traditions dating back hundreds of years and Pennsylvanian’s stand by those traditions”. Seriously? This is about standing behind traditions from centuries gone by and not the actual thing the bill addresses? Now I understand how this works!
Allow me to grant that the NRA is utterly correct. Because that lets me say the following: Call your Senator and tell them that opposing SB 626 is a stealth, proxy attack on our modern values. The next step by radical national groups is to revive slavery, take away the right of women and non-landowners to vote, or return us to indentured servitude; heck, maybe they’d like to bring back the monarchy. “Hundreds” of years ago we liked the King just fine here in Pennsylvania. And I hear there is a darling wedding happening soon.
Of course, none of what I just said was intended to be a factual statement. And I have a feeling that nothing the NRA had to say was either.
Let’s stick to the facts: Trapping pigeons in New York City, bringing them to Berks County, launching them from a mechanical device to be (ineffectively) shot by people from out of state who are illegally betting while children are enlisted as “wringers” to gather the wounded, twist their heads off, and dump their bodies in the trash, is not sport. It’s not the proud tradition any hunter or sportsmen I know was raised into.
I don’t want “radical” national groups telling us what to do in Pennsylvania either. But it’s not these groups that have convinced the sportsmen and hunters who live in Berks, who support the HSBC, and who serve as volunteers for the HSBC, that these shoots are wrong.
They know they are wrong because their fathers and mothers and grandfathers and grandmothers who hunted, who killed what they shot and ate what they killed taught them the difference between sport and cruelty for fun and profit. We know which pigeon shoots are, thank you very much.
The NRA and their members who share their political agenda have every right to oppose this bill and they should. But they should not lie about what the bill says or intends, nor about who is behind the effort to ban pigeon shoots. And that is exactly what they are doing.
The next vote on SB 626 may come as early as next Tuesday. Please take a moment to call or email your Senator, the Chair of the Appropriations Committee, and Committee members by clicking in the right spot and tell them what you think about the “proud tradition” of pigeon shoots and SB 626.