Unrest is growing among Evergreen State hunters over concerns that their junior U.S. Senator, Maria Cantwell, is essentially blowing off their interests by declining to co-sponsor the so-called “Sportsmen’s Act” and instead throwing out a strong hint she may oppose it.

At least two members of the popular Hunting-Washington forum corresponded with Cantwell about the legislation and after getting a reply, one man posted this message on the group’s website:

“There seems to be an anti-hunting / anti-gun tone to her response; I suspect she will not support this bill. Keep that in mind when it’s time to VOTE. We should all communicate to the entire committee since our senator does not appear to be supportive of hunters or hunting; she needs to be out-voted by other members of the committee.”

That member, Jim Goldsmith, goes by the nickname “jshunt” and is a Hunting-Washington moderator. He was particularly alarmed about one paragraph in Cantwell’s reply to his letter asking her to support and perhaps even co-sponsor the legislation, introduced by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Here’s the paragraph Cantwell wrote:

“Any legislation, which would increase the risk of gun-related accidents or poaching within our federal public lands and national parks, must demonstrate a clear need or purpose.  While I know that recreational use and collection of guns for hunting, sport, and other activities is extremely important to many law-abiding Washingtonians, we must ensure that our public lands and national parks are safe for all visitors. Please be assured I will keep your thoughts in mind should I have the opportunity to consider this legislation in the future.”

Another forum member traded e-mail privately with TGM and confirmed that he got the very same form letter response from Cantwell.

She also stated, “Our coasts and open spaces are areas where many priorities, including hunting and fishing, interact and can conflict with one another, especially where space is limited. I believe these areas are precious resources and that protection of these areas is essential for the collective benefit of current and future generations.”

It has stunned these outdoors people that Cantwell would refer to “gun-related accidents” and poaching when the legislation is aimed at protecting wildlands for all user groups, including hunters. Those consumptive outdoor users look at these topics as manufactured issues to excuse what will likely be a “No” vote from Cantwell, if the legislation makes it to the Senate floor.

They are cognizant of the fact that Washington’s other senator is anti-gunner Patty Murray, leaving them no representation at all in the U.S. Senate where gun- and hunting-related measures are concerned.

Washington is hardly unique in this regard. Hunters and gun owners in California, New York and other states also feel abandoned by their elected officials, if not wholly betrayed.

According to Murkowski’s website, the major tenets of the Sportsmen’s Act are:

  • The Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act, which protects the public’s right to engage in recreational hunting, fishing and shooting on federal land.
  • The Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act, which enables the Secretary of the Interior to authorize any state to issue electronic duck stamps.
  • The Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Protection Act, which excludes ammunition and fishing tackle from the Toxic Substances Control Act and leaves decisions about tackle to state fish and game agencies and the USFWS.
  • Bows Transported through National Parks, which allows bows to be transported across national park lands. Currently, firearms can be legally transported, but not bows.

Cantwell Murray are both “F”-rated Democrats and with anti-gun-rights voting records.

As a result, when gun rights and now a hunting rights issue comes up, many Washingtonians are compelled to look elsewhere for support, because they feel dismissed and even betrayed by their own elected officials.