President Biden’s nominee to serve as United States Secretary of the Interior, U.S. Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM), is yet another cog Biden hopes to fit into his administration’s anti-gun machine. Perhaps it would be more newsworthy if we only reported on Biden nominees that don’t support gutting the Second Amendment, but then we might have nothing to say.
As for Haaland, in her brief stint in Congress, to which she was first elected in 2018, she has made it clear she does not support the right to keep and bear arms. When it comes to guns, Haaland has expressed her desire to see most semi-automatic firearms banned under the guise of an “assault weapons” ban, even co-sponsoring legislation that would ban such firearms in 2019. She has also voted for so-called “universal” background check legislation, as well as so-called “Charleston loophole” legislation that would allow unelected government bureaucrats to cause indefinite delays for law-abiding Americans when they attempt to purchase firearms.
Considering the Secretary of the Interior has quite a bit of influence over hunting and recreational shooting policies on federal land, her support for gun bans and other restrictive gun control is clearly problematic. Not only would such measures be unconstitutional infringements on the Second Amendment, but they would negatively impact revenue raised through the Pittman-Robertson Act, which is used to help fund wildlife conservation efforts. Pittman-Robertson raises money through an excise tax on firearms and ammunition, so efforts to diminish what firearms may be sold, or that would discourage people from purchasing firearms, would lead to a decrease in funds available for conservation efforts.
But it gets even worse.
During testimony for her confirmation hearing, U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) asked Haaland if she would commit to the concept of no-net-loss when it comes to federal land available for hunting – she refused. This concept, which has been codified in numerous states, would simply establish that if a certain area of federal land that had been available for hunting opportunities needs to be closed to public use for hunting, then an equal and comparable area should be opened to compensate for the loss to the hunting public.
Senator Daines also asked Haaland if she supports banning the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle on public lands – again she refused to answer. Protecting traditional ammunition was something the previous administration had done not just in word, but in action.
And while the nominee claimed in her testimony that she would “look at the science” before imposing rules or restrictions that may impact hunters on federal lands, her past legislative efforts show she takes emotional, rather than scientific, positions on hunting.
Haaland has a history of co-sponsoring and voting for legislation that would place scientifically unwarranted restrictions on hunting healthy populations of grizzly bears, gray wolves, and countless other wildlife species, including in other countries. She has also called for banning trapping on all public lands, not for scientific conservation reasons, but, as she stated in her testimony, because her “constituents were concerned about that issue….”
Clearly, Representative Haaland’s track record demonstrates that she would not protect the interests of hunters, recreational shooters and sportsmen as Secretary of the Interior – as a result, the NRA opposes her confirmation. Her nomination currently awaits consideration by the full U.S. Senate, but a vote is yet to be scheduled. NRA-ILA will keep you apprised of any developments.