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NRA Responds To Criticism Over CARA (H.R. 701)

Wednesday, August 22, 2001

Dear NRA Member:

In July the House Resources Committee favorably reported HR 701, the Conservation and Reinvestment Act known as CARA. Because the bill is expected to be brought to the House of Representatives for a vote sometime in the Fall, the NRA has received inquiries regarding its position on HR 701, specifically with respect to the perceived impacts of CARA upon private property owners. I am taking the opportunity of using our website to respond so that as many of our members as possible will be informed of NRA`s views.

NRA has supported CARA since it was first introduced in 1998 by Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska). All national conservation and hunting organizations are on record in support of CARA. NRA`s support for CARA is tied to Title III which provides additional funds to state fish and wildlife agencies through a trust account Congressionally established in the 1930`s with the strong backing of sportsmen. The Pittman-Robertson trust account assists states in conserving and restoring wildlife and habitat.

The issue over CARA that has been brought to NRA`s attention, however, is over Title II which creates a land acquisition trust account for the federal land management agencies. Property rights groups claim that Title II will give the federal government unfettered powers to seize property owned by our citizens and they have rallied grassroots efforts to have NRA withdraw its support for CARA.

We are very sensitive to the fears expressed by some of our members that CARA is a threat to private property owners. Congressman Young has endeavored to construct Title II in a manner that addresses and alleviates these fears. However, I doubt that any private property protections built into CARA will satisfy those of our citizens who oppose any further land acquisition and expansion of the federal estate. In that context, while we have waged many battles over land acquisition and land transfer/exchange proposals when such actions pose a threat to hunting opportunities, the NRA has no position with respect to federal land acquisition per se due to our single issue charter.

Rest assured that NRA would not attach its name and support to a bill if its effect was to infringe upon any of our members` Constitutional rights. Our support for CARA is tied to Title III which is one title of ten in the bill. On the other hand, property-rights groups oppose a different title of the ten. Professional observers understand the legislative process is one of debate and amendments, and concerned individuals would be better served by an action plan to amend the bill rather than ad hominem attacks on groups such as the NRA who are simply fulfilling their mandate to serve their own constituencies. We suggest you inquire of those who are provoking these attacks what their legislative plan of action may be. I have included the contact information for the individual responsible for launching this irresponsible diversion, (Mr. J. Zane Walley, 505-653-4024 or frc@pvtnetworks.net.) and suggest you contact him posthaste.

Sincerely,

James Jay Baker
Executive Director
Institute for Legislative Action

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