July 12, 2022
Across the country, State Fish and Wildlife agencies stand on the front lines of conservation, and effectively use Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration funds as an indispensable part of their budgets to conserve wildlife and fisheries, restore habitat, provide shooting ranges, and connect people with nature. These funds, generated through a 10-11 percent federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition through the Pittman-Robertson Act, have generated $15 billion for conservation since the law was enacted in 1937. In 2022 alone, State Fish and Wildlife Agencies received a record $1.1 billion in funding through the Pittman-Robertson Act to support state and local outdoor recreational opportunities, and wildlife and habitat conservation efforts.
However, after nearly a century of conservation success and bipartisan support, our system of funding conservation and shooting sports is at risk. The RETURN (Repealing Excise Taxes on Unalienable Rights Now) Our Constitutional Rights Act of 2022, H.R. 8167, if enacted, would effectively cripple the Pittman-Robertson Act – the most significant wildlife conservation legislation in the United States and the foundational pillar of our “user-pays, public-benefits” American System of Conservation Funding. The bill would eliminate the 10-11 percent federal excise tax on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment that funds conservation in America.
Since 1937, it is hunters first and foremost that have championed these excise taxes. And these taxes have helped the shooting sports and hunting industries grow for generations. They have paid for shooting ranges, hunter education programs, wildlife management, and habitat restoration. The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies is opposed to this legislation, which ignores the will of sportsmen and women, industry groups, and the conservation community at large. Wildlife in America faces enough challenges already; the last thing our species need is a threat to repeal the funds that state agencies use to support them.