seen in the October 15th, 2003 Suffolk Life Article on the SAFE/NRA
Women on Target Clinic on October 4th, 2003.
Keeping L.I. On Target
By Tim Charles
Like it or not, firearms
ownership and the outdoors have a long traditional relationship that
goes back to the earliest history in America. America's culture evolved
upon the freedom of its new citizens, who were able to enjoy the bounty
the new nation had to offer. The fish and game that were a seemingly
endless resource at the time no longer belonged to just the king and
his cronies. State constitutions firmly stated that fish and wildlife
belonged to the people. Hunting, and the use and ownership of firearms
to bring home the bacon, as well as for self-protection, became an
intricate part of the American psyche. Owning a gun, and knowing how
to use it, were as natural as walking and talking to our early American
predecessors. The activities and beliefs of today's sportsmen and
women are seeped in these traditions and the proud heritage associated
with them. For many law-abiding citizens their right to own a firearm
is as precious as their right to enjoy other freedoms the values of
this country are based upon.
Cushman of Brookhaven has been an advocate for sportsmen and women,
and for the lawful ownership of firearms for well more than 30 years.
In the early 1970s he became the youngest member of New York's Conservation
Council, a civic organization that oversees the management of this
state's Department of Environmental Conservation. In 1973 he was also
instrumental in founding the Suffolk Alliance of Sportsmen, Inc.,
a local organization of hunting, fishing and shooting clubs that is
still the voice for Long Island sportsmen and women to this day. Chances
are, if an issue involving firearms or the rights of sportsmen is
being publicly debated, John Cushman will be nearby.
Always looking for a better way to send the message, in 1993 John
worked to form the Sportsmen's Association for Firearms Education.
SAFE's key word is education, and this is what the organization focuses
upon. Its primary mission is to educate the public, the media and
elected officials about the various aspects of legal gun ownership
in American society. It is no secret that the ownership and use of
firearms is a controversial issue in most circles today. For many
people who are unfamiliar with firearms, the use or even the mere
presence of one can be disconcerting. This is understandable, for
the unlawful or unsafe use of firearms is a troublesome issue. John
Cushman and the members of SAFE understand this.
In an effort to educate non-shooters about firearms use, SAFE sponsored
its first Women on Target event on October 4, 2003 at the Long Island
Shooting Center on Freeman Avenue in Islip. With only a little public
posting on the event, 56 women came to participate. The program provided
them with an introduction to safe gun handling and proper firearm
storage techniques, as well as the fundamentals of marksmanship. Most
had never handled or used a firearm before, but they were anxious
to learn. Claire Yannacone of Patchogue, an educator herself, was
typical of the women participating. While Claire had never handled
a firearm before, and was admittedly more against gun ownership than
in favor of it, she came to learn firsthand what firearms use is about.
After experiencing the lawful, safe manner with which firearms should
and must be handled, Claire had a better understanding of the rewards
of the shooting sports.
To further accomplish its mission, SAFE works to disseminate information
to all parties interested in firearms issues. It sponsors forums,
such as the Right to Carry Conference it recently sponsored in Hauppauge,
inviting local public officials to listen to those matters of importance
to proponents of gun ownership. Additionally, SAFE reviews legislation,
working to organize support or opposition for those proposed laws
that have an impact on lawful gun ownership. SAFE maintains strong
affiliations with the NRA, Gun Owners of America and the Citizens
Committee for the Right to Bear Arms. With more than 700 members,
SAFE is a strong voice for the shooting sports in New York.