More than 50,000 people from across the globe are streaming into the Dallas Convention Center. It’s the granddaddy of all outdoor expos: the Dallas Safari Club’s annual convention.
This is the group that auctioned off a permit to kill a rare African rhino two years ago.
With issues of gun violence dominating the news, hunters share their perspective on the brewing debate.
What’s for sale at the Dallas Safari Club’s annual convention runs the gamut. Custom boots and leather cell phone cases. Four-wheelers and insulated deer blinds. Taxidermy services, hunting trips to Spain, and plenty of guns.
The vendors have plenty of customers too. Barbara Rumpel, 67, is one of them. She’s been shooting guns for three decades and started seriously hunting a couple years ago.
“Went to an NRA event at the Whittington Center, spent nine days with 90 women shooting everything, and now I’m hooked," says Rumpel.
Hunters Weigh In
In her opinion, the debate over guns is outrageous.
“What it is about ‘shall not be infringed’ that nobody seems to understand?”
She’s referring, of course, to language in the second amendment that reads: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
On Tuesday President Obama proposed a series of measures to take on gun violence. One of them? Require more gun sellers to do background checks. Rumpel thinks that’s a slippery slope.
“The thing about these universal background checks is the only way to enforce it is universal registration," she says. "So that the government knows exactly where everybody’s guns are so they know where to take them.”
A Serious Responsibility
The Dallas Safari Club’s Executive Director, Ben Carter, says hunters, as a group, take gun ownership seriously.
“While it’s one of our rights, it’s also a privilege, so you respect that privilege by doing it responsibly," he says.
In his opinion, harsher penalties for criminals would have a much stronger effect on gun violence than expanding background checks.
“If the idea is to stop the crazy things that are happening, you’ve got to figure out how to get to the people who are doing it," Carter says. "Because they’re not going in to the gun store and registering the gun that they’re buying. They’re buying it off the street, they’re buying it from the black market, or they stole it from somebody.”
In fact, a number of the perpetrators in recent mass shootings acquired their guns legally.
What About Open Carry?
While both Carter and Barbara Rumpel strongly support gun rights, neither one of them is planning to take advantage of a new law that allows Texans to openly carry handguns. They’re much more concerned with where the country’s headed. Rumpel says gun laws already on the books aren’t fully enforced.
“To quote Wayne LaPierre: ‘If the fish are swimming through your net, you don’t get a bigger net, you get smaller holes.’”
A quote from the NRA’s leader, that Rumpel considers words to live by.