In the US, more than 80% of all wildlife species are harvested with firearms. Handguns, high powered rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders and highly controversial AR style shooting platforms are commonly used. The safe and ethical use of these weapons is often passed from generation to generation, and gun safety is taught and preached throughout the wildlife conservation/hunting industry.
With the majority of legally registered firearms being owned by conservationists/hunters, over regulation of firearms and deterioration of second amendment rights is putting the future of the nation’s wildlife at risk. This side effect of firearm regulation is often overlooked with the exception of sportsmen. The nationwide hype against guns has been steadily building for years. A series of traumatic events that have taken place throughout the nation, using illegally obtained guns, has put legal gun ownership in the spotlight of debate. A stirring mix of emotion and constitutional rights are keeping this topic under close scrutiny.
In 2014, the national deer harvest was approximately 6,102,279 deer. In the absence of regulated harvest with firearms, deer populations would have the ability increase nearly 15% in a single year. The reduction in hunter numbers in recent times may already be due in part to the over regulation of firearms. With 80% of the deer harvests taken by means of firearms; overpopulation, disease, vehicle collisions and crop/property destruction will be imminent if conservationists were forced to forfeit the use of firearms as a viable means of harvest.
More primitive weapons such as bow and arrow are alternative weapons for ethical harvest, but only representing 20% of the nation’s annual deer harvest. Using only these, populations would quickly exceed local carrying capacities. The concern does not just stop with deer. Many species of game are hunted almost exclusively with firearms. Management of numerous game bird species as well as predator control of coyotes, cougars, bears, fox and wolves would become almost nonexistent. Invasive species such as feral hogs, which already lack proper harvest numbers, would quickly expand their range and combine with native overpopulated species to spread disease and cause astronomical amounts of agricultural and ecological devastation.
Science and history have proven that Mother Nature’s management of excess populations is through disease and starvation. This is a slow and cruel death for many of the animals that today’s conservation groups strive to protect. Ecological and environmental stability are dependent on the true conservation efforts of hunters. The inability to hunt with firearms, or drastically reduced numbers of hunters due to over regulation of firearms, is a plight against conservation.
In this modern war on guns, one subject not debated by either group is the tragedy associated with each violent event. One problem is anti-gun advocates are in debate with legal gun owners, many of which own guns to participate in their heritage, and none of which have participated in these heinous crimes. Illegal gun ownership has not been affected by any number of firearm regulations passed in recent times, due mainly in part to the fact they are ILLEGAL. They do not fall under the umbrella of regulation and common law. Stricter gun laws are being misdirected toward legal gun owners rather than focusing efforts on mental health, entry of illegal guns from other countries, and illegal gun ownership.
A mentally ill few have created a society where many live in uneducated fear of firearms, and thrive off following mainstream trends and movements driven by the media. The remainder of the population who support the constitution, care about conservation, and are continuing their heritage are quickly losing the opportunity to use firearms. In the end, hunters/conservationists and wildlife are the affected parties in the over regulation of guns.