From Olympic medalists and Second Amendment advocates to outdoor writers and film stars, the gun culture world lost several faces in 2017.
Theunis Botha– Noted South African big game hunter was killed at age 51 in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park in a freak hunting accident, crushed by an elephant shot by another hunter.
Jim Bunning– Perhaps best remembered as the Hall of Fame pitcher who threw just the seventh perfect game in Major League Baseball history, Bunning went on to become a conservative lawmaker representing his home state of Kentucky in Congress for over 20 years. During that time, the NRA credited him with scores of votes on gun rights issues. Bunning died aged 85 in May. His seat has been held since U.S. Sen. Rand Paul since 2011.
Powers Boothe– With some of the most memorable gun culture lines uttered on the big screen, Boothe, whose credits include Red Dawn, Tombstone, and Deadwood, Boothe died at age 68 in May.
Melania Capitan– The Spanish huntress with more than 10,000 followers on social media reportedly took her own life at age 27 in June, after what some described as cyberbullying over her lifestyle, leaving a hunting organization to push for criminal charges against her tormentors citing “animal terrorism.”
Magda Fedor– Over the course of a 40-year career, this sports pistol shooter participated in numerous European and World Championships, earning a reported 123 medals — but never had a chance to compete in the Olympics as shooting sports for women were only introduced to those international games after she retired. She died at age 103 in December.
Roy Innis– In the 1960s the Army veteran and research chemist became the outspoken national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality. Among the civil rights Innis advocated for were those protected by the Second Amendment. He subsequently became a lifetime NRA member, sitting on the organization’s board of directors for over 20 years, serving at times on the group’s Urban Affairs and Ethics committees, arguing that gun control was “meant to deprive you of your freedom.”
Peder Lund– A former U.S. Army Ranger and Green Beret, Lund founded the Professional Action Library in 1970, a publishing enterprise that later turned into Paladin Press. Paladin went on to produce more than 800 how-to books and videos on topics like self-defense, firearms, martial arts, and survival with Lund at the helm. The company shuttered this year following Lund’s death at age 75 while on vacation in Finland.
Richard “Mack” Machowicz– A former Navy SEAL, Machowicz was the longtime host first of the Discovery Channel’s show Future Weapons and a member of the Spike show, Deadliest Warrior. An ordained Buddhist priest, he died in May at age 51 from brain cancer.
Bill Paxton– Paxton, whose roles ranged from a Colonial Marine to Tombstone gunslinger Morgan Earp, died at age 61 in June.
Bob Owens– The founder and editor of the popular pro-gun website Bearing Arms was found dead in his vehicle in North Carolina, in May at age 46, in a shooting that was later ruled a suicide.
Jim Reardon– Navy veteran and former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent, he went on to become the outdoors editor for Alaska Magazine and pen more than 20 books, many on hunting including such classics as “Hunting Alaska’s Far Places: Half a Century with Rifle and Shotgun” and “Alaska’s Wolf Man: The 1915-55 Wilderness Adventures of Frank Glaser.” Reardon died at age 91 in February.
George Romero– The New York-born filmmaker who unleashed modern zombie culture on the world in his Night of the Living Dead in 1968 and went on to fine-tune the genre over the course of nearly a half-century probably was responsible for as many gun sales as Obama. He died in June at age 77. Notably, director Tobe Hooper, of Texas Chain Saw Massacre fame, also died this year at age 74.
Alexander Taransky– An Australian rapid-fire pistol competitor, Taransky was a triple Olympian and long-time national coach. He died at age 76 in December.
Lones W. Wigger, Jr.- The retired Army officer, shooting coach, Olympic medalist and sniper school instructor died in December at age 80. Wigger was a 24-time World Champion, 33-time world-record holder, and 91-time National Champion in addition to bringing home two golds and a silver from the Olympics.