The American Hunters and Shooters Association has endorsed Barack Obama’s presidential bid. The group’s president, Ray Schoenke, said the membership approached Obama about its support before the tempest over Obama’s remarks in San Francisco on April 6 about “bitter” small-town voters who cling to their religion and guns. In announcing the endorsement Wednesday, Schoenke said he was “stepping up to set the record straight” and that charges of elitism made by Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and from Republican John McCain are “patently ridiculous.”
“We know Sen. Obama gets it,” Schoenke said. Key to the group’s endorsement, Schoenke said, was Obama’s support in 2006 of the Vitter amendment to the Homeland Security Appropriations bill, to make clear the government cannot confiscate guns during times of crisis. Clinton opposed the amendment.
Bob Ricker, executive director of the group, said its members are more interested in “civic responsibility” and less “extreme” about gun rights than the National Rifle Association or Gun Owners of America. The association also considers candidates' views on conservation and global warming.
How about a current litmus test for gun advocates, whether a candidate supports the District of Columbia’s handgun ban now being considered by the Supreme Court? Ricker admitted that Obama’s public stance is not entirely clear and that as a result “I’m not sure” of his take. “He says he supports the individual right to bear arms,” he said.