NANCY EDMONDS HANSON: After Thought — Standing Her Ground

The thing is, Pam Musland is not anti-gun. She supports hunting in North Dakota. She grew up going to the shooting range and crouching in duck blinds with her father. She’s a graduate of the Game and Fish Department’s hunter safety training — has walked the autumn fields herself beside her husband in pursuit of the wily pheasant.

She supports Second Amendment rights. There are firearms in the Muslands’ family home in Jamestown, N.D., where they raised their three now-adult children to respect gun ownership.

So when the first-time legislative candidate opened the letter from the National Rifle Association last April, she was predisposed to give them a fair hearing.

Until she read the third sentence, set in bold type: If you choose not to return a questionnaire, you may be assigned a ‘?’ rating, which can be interpreted by our membership as indifference, if not outright hostility, toward Second Amendment-related issues.

“I read that paragraph and knew I wasn’t going to fill it out,” Pam says. “It was ridiculous. They were threatening me — ‘if you don’t answer this, we’ll basically make sure you’re blackballed.’

“I’m not going to play that game. I’m just not going to do it.”

But when she received a follow-up last week reiterating the demand to answer by June 30 — or else — she decided to speak up after all … but not quite as they expected.

“It might be political suicide, but I’m not going to answer four pages of black-and-white questions. They’re obviously worded to get exactly the response the NRA wants,” she says. “I’m more than happy to share my positions with the voters, but this letter goes too far. I consider it to be threatening and bullying, and I will not respond to threats.”

Instead, the 54-year-old mother of three wrote the Jamestown Sun a letter explaining the negative rating she expects from the all-powerful gun group:

What I will tell you, NRA, is this: I support hunting in North Dakota. There are firearms in our home. … We allow hunters on (the land my husband and I own) through the Game and Fish Departments Private Land Open to Sportsmen program and have never posted the land.

I support Second Amendment rights. However, military assault rifles like the ones used in the mass shootings in Orlando and San Bernardino are weapons of war. They are used for killing humans in rapid succession. … It would be refreshing to have an open debate about the Second Amendment that is not fear-induced.

“The NRA is a huge organization. The responsible gun owners who are its members should be leading the discussion on how to control the violence,” she says. “They could be proactive and progressive. I know that the majority of North Dakota hunters would follow their lead. But no — their position is absolute.”

When Pam, 54, decided to run for the state House of Representatives last February, gun ownership was nowhere among her top concerns. The Farmers Union writer, who manages its marketing and communications, says, “Gun rights were never in my sights or on our platform. I’m running for working families. I know what it’s like to work paycheck-to-paycheck. I know what it’s like to move into a community and find that there’s no day care, period — not just adequate day care, but none at all.”

She also cites the pressing needs of the most vulnerable residents of District 12, which encompasses five of the city’s six precincts: senior citizens living on fixed income, people with disabilities, folks with drug issues — “we don’t have adequate services here. We don’t have them statewide.”

But guns? Not so much, despite her long familiarity with this key element of North Dakota culture.

“I support the right to hunt. I support the right to protect yourself with firearms,” she asserts. “But you don’t need a military assault rifle to do that. If you couldn’t own that kind of rifle, it doesn’t diminish your ability to hunt and to protect yourself, your family and your home. Not one bit.”

She fully expects to be labeled “indifferent, if not outright hostile” by the NRA. “It’s a given,” she concedes. “But I want the people of Jamestown to know what I’m all about.

“Not taking orders from the NRA may sink my campaign. I know that. But if I don’t stand for anything, why run for office in the first place?”

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3 thoughts on “NANCY EDMONDS HANSON: After Thought — Standing Her Ground”

  • Helen Murphy July 1, 2016 at 8:12 am

    Thanks for sharing. Finally someone who is using common sense who refuses to be bullied by the NRA. I have friends who are hunters and also own assault rifles who seem like normal people. And yet, they are convinced that gun control laws will mean someone will come and take away their weapons and they have the right to protect themselves. It is like the NRA has brain washed people. I hope this lady gets elected and others join her in making needed changes to gun laws.

  • Larry Gauper July 1, 2016 at 11:13 am

    Excellent piece, Nancy, and I heard you on Heitkamp’s show. Nice job with the column and on the radio. When we will ever get rid of the NRA “trumping” the wishes of most Americans. Pam Musland’s brave stand and your eloquent speaking out in support of her clear position are what we need more of to fight the bullying of the NRA. Thanks!

  • Roswell Henke July 2, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    Proud to know you, Pam.


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