A Hunter On Gun Control: 'We Want Something To Change' | KUOW News and Information

A Hunter On Gun Control: 'We Want Something To Change'

Oct 3, 2015
Originally published on October 3, 2015 4:21 pm

After Thursday's mass shooting at an Oregon community college, which left nine people dead and more injured, President Obama aired his frustration over gun laws in the U.S. At a news conference Friday, he called on voters to push their representatives to take action.

"You just have to, for a while, be a single-issue voter, because that's what is happening on the other side," Obama said. "And that's going to take some time. I mean, the NRA has had a good start."

Not all gun owners agree with the policies of the National Rifle Association. Hunter — and Oregon resident — Lily Raff thinks she's precisely the kind of person Obama was addressing.

"I think what he's calling for is probably for gun owners like me, who support some reasonable gun control, to stand up and say, 'The NRA doesn't represent us,' " Raff tells NPR's Michel Martin. "We want something to happen here. We want something to change."

Raff, author of the memoir Call of the Mild: Learning to Hunt My Own Dinner, has written about her differences with the NRA. After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, Raff wrote columns for the New York Times and The Atlantic calling on fellow hunters to support stricter gun control measures.

"There's a whole spectrum of gun owners," she says, "and I think one of the problems that we have as a country is that there is a very, very narrow view of the gun owner that has a voice."


Interview Highlights

On hunters' public image

I think that's one of the problems we have, as hunters and as gun owners, is that for people who don't know any hunters personally and aren't familiar with hunting, we just kind of get lumped into this category of "gun nut."

On gun control

Particularly for hunters, we understand that there can be a middle ground there, that just because certain pieces of the legislation are passed and new regulations are applied doesn't mean that we're all going to have to turn over our guns and, you know, have them melted down or something.

As a hunter, I am subject to all kinds of firearms regulations every fall, when I go hunting. The state of Oregon has some rules about what gauge of shotgun I can or can't carry, what times of day I can shoot, what areas of the state I can shoot in. These are regulations that hunters accept, and even embrace, because they're part of what makes our hunting heritage possible.

On the views of gun owners

One of the things that often gets lost in this very polarized conversation — or lack of conversation — nationally about guns is that there's a huge amount of diversity. Just like hunters come in all stripes and with all backgrounds, so do gun owners.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We're going to hear another perspective now from a gun owner, Lily Raff McCaulou is a proud gun owner - a hunter in Oregon. She's also written about her differences with a group best known for defending gun rights, the NRA. You might've caught her opinion pieces in The Atlantic and The New York Times. And she's with us now from her home in Portland, Ore.

Lily Raff McCaulou, thanks so much for speaking with us.

LILY RAFF MCCAULOU: Thanks for having me.

MARTIN: Can I just ask you what your reaction has been to this latest incident - which has to hit you somewhat close to home since it is somewhat near you, it's in your state.

RAFF MCCAULOU: Yeah. I mean, it's close enough to be just another awful reminder that this kind of thing can happen anywhere, anytime. It just struck me as heartbreaking. I mean, I'm a mother and so it's just exactly the kind of news that I don't want to be hearing.

MARTIN: In his speech on Thursday night, President Obama called for moderate gun owners to stand up to the NRA to get some sort of legislative progress on this issue. Did you think he was talking to people like you?

RAFF MCCAULOU: I did. Yeah. I think I'm exactly the kind of person that he's talking to. I think what he's calling for is probably for gun owners like me, who support some reasonable gun control, to stand up and say the NRA doesn't represent us. We want something to happen here. We want something to change. And I think that that's one of the problems that we have, as hunters and as gun owners, is that for people who don't know any hunters personally and aren't familiar with hunting, we just kind of get lumped into this category of gun nut.

MARTIN: Where do you think the center of gravity is on this issue among gun owners? Because it used to be, in these debates, that hunters were front and center. I mean, wildlife conservation groups, like Ducks Unlimited, for example, or groups like that. Where the people who were kind of the face of gun rights now, it's become very much more a matter of defending your constitutional rights. And I'm just wondering where you think the center of gravity is.

RAFF MCCAULOU: It's hard for me to say, but my guess would be that the center is a lot closer to me than it is to the NRA. I think particularly for hunters, we understand that there can be a middle ground there. That just because certain pieces of legislation are passed and new regulations are applied doesn't mean that we're all going to have to turn over our guns and, you know, have them melted down or something. As a hunter, I am subject to all kinds of firearms regulations every fall when I go hunting. The state of Oregon has some rules about, you know, what gauge of shotgun I can or can't carry, what times of day I can shoot, what areas of the state I can shoot in. These are regulations that hunters accept and even embrace because they're part of what makes our hunting heritage possible.

MARTIN: You know, I started to say that we should stipulate that you are an atypical gun owner. But I'm not sure that's even true, is it? I mean, is it - do you think that your views are perhaps more in line with more gun owners than we, perhaps, realize?

RAFF MCCAULOU: You know, I think one of the things that often gets lost in this very polarized conversation, or lack of conversation, nationally about guns is that there's a huge amount of diversity. I mean, just like hunters come in all stripes and with all backgrounds, so do gun owners. There's a whole spectrum of gun owners, and I think one of the problems that we have as a country is that there is a very, very narrow view of the gun owner that has a voice.

MARTIN: Lily Raff McCaulou is a hunter, a gun owner and a writer. She's author of the memoir "Call Of The Mild: Learning To Hunt My Own Dinner," and we reached at her home in Portland, Ore. Lily Raff McCaulou, thanks so much for speaking with us.

RAFF MCCAULOU: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.