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Buckeye Firearms Association goes "one-on-one" with VP candidate Paul Ryan
by Larry S. Moore
(Columbus) - Congressman Paul Ryan has become a household word since being tapped by Mitt Romney to become his running mate. The sportsmen community has been buzzing with news about Ryan's hunting trips. Congressman Ryan's record is easy to research.
He was first sworn into office as the Congressman representing Wisconsin's First District on January 3, 1999. He is currently the Chairman of the House Budget Committee and often referred to as a "budget hawk". Congressman Ryan served four years as the Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen Caucus, which is the largest caucus in Congress. Key votes over his career include: voted yes to prohibit product misuse lawsuits against gun manufacturer (2005); voted to prohibit suing gun makers and sellers for firearm misuse (2003); co-sponsored national concealed carry reciprocity (2009); and co-sponsored legislation to allow the M-1 Garand and M-1 carbines to be imported for collectors
BFA: The Obama Administration has refused to close the Chicago shipping canal to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes Basin. Environmental DNA is in Lake Michigan plus some bays of Lake Erie. What will your position in the Romney Administration be regarding invasive species and specifically the Asian carp?
Ryan: First I represent a district on the western shore of Lake Michigan. We catch perch and salmon. Ohio has a great walleye, which I think is the best tasting fresh water fish, population. I know this issue very well. I fought for the electronic barrier which has had limited success. We will get the US Army Corps of Engineers to get a plan in gear. The Corps has delayed for a long time. I worked the issue as a member of the Great Lakes caucus in Congress. The Corps needs to put a viable plan in place. Let the science tell us how to best prevent the invasive species coming into the Great Lakes. We understand the threat to our indigenous populations, the walleye, perch and salmon. We have to get a plan from the Corps of Engineers.
BFA: President Obama targeted you in Iowa regarding the farm bill. It contains items critical to farmers struggling with the drought conditions and conservation. What is your position?
Ryan: We need a farm bill but over 80% of the farm bill is the food stamp program. The President and the Democrats have been unwilling to reform the food stamp program. It is in dire need of reform. We are missing an opportunity to get reform. I supported drought relief for farmers which is important. We believe in the conservation programs in the farm bill. The bill is necessary but we want to ensure we have a good farm bill.
BFA: There is a lot of controversy regarding hunting, fishing and trapping on federal lands. Environmental groups are pushing to eliminate the use of lead bullets on federal lands. Please explain.
Ryan: I can't imagine hunting, other than waterfowl, without lead especially when talking about rifle bullets. We believe in land access meaning we want to promote and preserve access. There has been some hostility from the federal government toward sportsmen access to federal land. We think bureaucracy has gotten between the hunters, trappers and fishermen who paid the taxes and access to the land. We have to remember that the American people are the taxpayers who own the public land. All taxpayers should have access to our public land."
BFA: The budget is getting a lot of attention with the possible across the board $100 billion in spending cuts for January 2013. The Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson Act) and the Sport Fish Restoration Act (Dingell-Johnson Act) trust funds are included in those line cuts. What can be done to preserve sportsmen dollars?
Ryan: Obviously I'm a big fan of these funds and the conservation programs they fund. These are fee based programs that hunters and anglers pay. The programs finance wildlife conservation. We passed a bill that I wrote out of the House that addresses this issue. It cuts spending in other areas of government. The President has been silent on the issue. President Obama has not lifted one finger to fix the problem. There will be indiscriminate cuts to the military and other parts of government. The House bill will cut wasteful Washington spending elsewhere. Under a Romney Presidency we will replace these automatic cuts with plans that manage the budget.
BFA: Since being picked as the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate you've received a lot of attention as a hunter. What should the sportsmen know about Paul Ryan before heading to the polls?
Ryan: I was Chairman of the Sportsmen Caucus for four years. The purpose of the caucus is to advocate for conservation, sportsmen, hunting and fishing rights. Sportsmen are the best conservationists. They understand individual rights so well because we exercise our rights through the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Our First Amendment rights for religious freedom have already been infringed upon by this administration. This administration believes in a larger role for the federal bureaucracy. I believe this will ultimately lead to infringing upon other individual rights. Mitt Romney and I believe in sound science to manage conservation. We believe in access to federal lands. We believe in fully protecting the Second Amendment which is an individual right. I've been hunting since I was a little kid. It's part of me and my family. It's a great way of life. It's one of the great freedoms we have as citizens. I shudder to think what an Obama Administration will be like in a second term when they never have to face the voters again.
Congressman Ryan was relaxed wearing casual clothes, vest and boots. His welcome and manner made me feel completely at ease during the interview. His eyes often sparkled and his voice became emphatic, in fact urgent, when talking about the issues. He knew the subjects, is passionate about hunting and enthusiastic about passing his family tradition along to his children. We laughed about his stop earlier in the week to buy camo clothing for his daughter and an upcoming deer hunting trip. It's an experience I had many years ago with my daughter and something we still cherish today. Paul Ryan is a person whom I'd welcome to our deer camp.
Outdoor writer and hunter education instructor Larry S. Moore is a long-time volunteer leader for Buckeye Firearms Foundation and winner of the 2005 USSA Patriot Award, the 2007 League of Ohio Sportsmen/Ohio Wildlife Federation Hunter Educator of the Year and the 2010 National Wild Turkey Federation/ Women in the Outdoors Hunter Education Instructor of the Year.