The gun control lobby has spent a lot of time, energy, and money trying to convince middle America that it’s only calling for “reasonable restrictions” and “commonsense measures” to curb “gun violence” while still respecting the Second Amendment and the right to keep and bear arms. In truth, however, there’s no aspect of gun ownership that the gun control lobby supports, just like there’s no gun control law that they’d find un-reasonable or lacking in common sense.
Take youth competitive sports, for example. In Minnesota, the state’s high school clay target league is the fastest growing sanctioned school athletic activity, with more than 12,000 participants and teams in at least 350 high schools. The league’s state championships featured more than 8,000 student athletes earlier this year; all of whom have learned how to be safe and responsible with a firearm while also learning just how fun it can be to blow clay targets out of the sky.
If there’s any gun-involved activity that should meet with the approval of the “gunsense” crowd, this would be it. And yet, as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports, the anti-gun crowd has a big problem with the clay target league… though they’re pinning their objections to the NRA’s financial support.
Close to 40% of students who join the USA Clay Target League haven’t previously taken firearm safety training. This cohort may not have otherwise picked up a gun were it not for the school trap team. That means more young people are learning gun safety. But it also adds more firearm owners to a country awash in some 400 million guns — the leading cause of death for children.
Though USA Clay Target doesn’t promote Second Amendment rights, it has received support from the NRA Foundation ($39,000 in 2021, per IRS 990 filings). In recent years, the foundation has given millions in cash and in-kind donations to youth shooting-sports organizations nationwide, including, in 2019, more than $100,000 to Minnesota groups.
The NRA’s influence concerns Kris Brown, president of Brady, the national gun-violence prevention group. “I look at anything funded by the National Rifle Association with a jaundiced eye, because about 30 years ago they stopped talking publicly about any risks associated with firearms,” she said. “In this country, suicide with a firearm is at a 40-year high, and that is particularly true with teenagers.”
Is it true among high school clay target competitors? I doubt it. As for the NRA’s financial largess, as the Star-Tribune pointed out, the national USA Clay Target program got $39,000 in 2021, which is less than a dollar for every high schooler participating in the league and hardly evidence that the organization is using clay target shooting as some sort of backdoor scheme to grow its membership.
Moreover, it Brown has an issue with the NRA funding these programs, why doesn’t Brady kick in even more cash? Heck, Michael Bloomberg is sitting on a personal fortune of nearly $100-billion, which would be more than enough money to build a Bloomberg-approved range for every county in the country where youth trap shooting teams could practice under the watchful eye of their adult instructors.
But that would go against everything the anti-gunners stand for. They don’t want to do anything to normalize gun ownership, much less encourage teenagers to have a blast (no pun intended) with their friends by participating in the shooting sports. Instead of fostering education and training, they’re intent on abstinence; don’t look at a gun, don’t touch a gun, don’t talk about guns, and don’t believe for a second that competitive shooting could actually be fun.
What sounds more reasonable to you; giving teens the opportunity to participate in a high school athletic league that teaches real gun safety under the watchful eyes of adult instructors, or making even competitive shooting sports taboo because, well, there’s shooting involved? I happen to think it’s a great thing that thousands of Minnesota teens are taking part in the state’s clay target league, but for the anti-gunners even this is a bridge too far.