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John McCain, Barack Obama on outdoors issues -- again

October 20, 2008 |  7:47 am


The presidential election is two weeks away and I’m flipping through yet another outdoors magazine that touts John McCain’s and Barack Obama’s views on such issues as gun control, fisheries and public land access.

There are no revelations in the November issue of Outdoor Life.

John McCain is still against gun control and Obama still supports the Second Amendment but favors a ban on assault weapons and cinching a gun show loophole that allows trading of weapons between private individuals in states where this practice is currently legal.

Both candidates claim to be conservationists who want to protect fisheries and preserve angler opportunities. McCain, however, appears to be more of a proponent of hunters and anglers at a time when environmentalists are increasingly pressing for wilderness preservation versus public access.

“I have long supported multiple uses for public lands that ensure they are available for this and future generations to hunt, fish and explore,” he is quoted as saying.

Obama tends to include a disclaimer whenever he discusses access. And Outdoor Life, which claims to be objective, countered McCain’s statement with this one from Obama:

“We need to make sure that we’re good stewards of the land. It means that we are maintaining access to public lands but are also making sure that we are doing it in a responsible way.”

Certainly, those who hunt, fish and use off-road vehicles are disturbed by trends toward wilderness preservation. Shutting sportsmen and other user groups out does not always seem justified, and in some cases it seems un-American.

A recent survey commissioned by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation found that hunters and fishermen view loss of habitat and public access as the largest threats to their pastimes. They'd like Congress to prioritize federal lands for habitat available to all.

There are an estimated 40 million hunters of voting age in the Unites States, so their interests should not be taken lightly by the candidates.

In fact, McCain has launched a website, on which he proclaims to be an angler who “knows the difference between spinning gear and a fly rod.”

OK, but in a recent interview with Field & Stream magazine he confessed that his angling experience was restricted largely to a pond on his property in northern Arizona.

He’s not much more of a sportsman than Obama, who, once upon a time, went spearfishing while growing up in Hawaii.

It’s too bad both aren’t more in tune with the great outdoors, because it’s always better to have a boss who truly understands.

It’s also too bad this country is faced with much more pressing issues, which might diminish this debate somewhat. But Outposts is interested in what you think of the candidates and their positions. Please be civil.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo by George Wilhelm / Los Angeles Times