In-Depth: Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to encourage states to develop additional shooting ranges by making more federal funds for this purpose available to state fish and wildlife agencies. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), the Senate sponsor of this legislation, says:
“West Virginians have a proud hunting heritage and a strong interest in shooting sports, both for recreational and economic purposes. This bipartisan legislation—which I’m glad to reintroduce today—provides a responsible way to improve cooperation at the federal, state, and local levels to create and maintain shooting ranges while also encouraging their continued use.”
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the firearms industry trade association, supports this bill. The NSSF’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Lawrence G. Keane, says:
“This is crucial legislation that would provide state fish and game agencies more flexibility to use Pittman-Robertson excise taxes dollars raised from the sale of firearms and ammunition to enhance existing public shooting ranges and to build new ones to meet the growing need for additional places for target shooters to participate in their sport. Public shooting ranges provide hunters a place to sight in rifles and shotguns before hunting seasons, for people to take firearm safety and hunter education courses and, for recreational target shooters to enjoy their sport. NSSF thanks Congressmen Kind and Bishop for recognizing the critical need and providing solutions to benefit recreational shooters and conservation.”
This bill has 17 bipartisan House cosponsors, including 16 Republicans and one Democrat. A Senate companion bill, sponsored by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), has passed the Senate by voice vote with the support of 14 bipartisan cosponsors, including nine Republicans, four Democrats, and one Independent.
Last Congress, the House version of this bill, sponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), passed the House Judiciary Committee but didn’t receive a House vote. The House bill had 61 bipartisan House cosponsors, including 54 Republicans and seven Democrats. A Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, passed the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works but didn’t receive a Senate vote. The Senate bill had 17 bipartisan Senate cosponsors, including 10 Republicans, six Democrats, and one Independent.
Of Note: The Pittman-Robertson excise tax, which has been paid by firearms and ammunition manufacturers since 1937, imposes an 11% “user pays” excise tax on firearms and ammunition. Since its establishment, this excise tax has raised nearly $12.1 billion for wildlife conservation. States are currently permitted to use some of these funds for hunter education courses and public shooting ranges, but the NSSF says the “restrictive formula” currently in place “has largely discouraged state agencies from building and enhancing public shooting ranges.”
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), which lobbies Congress and state governments to protect and advance hunting, angling, recreational shooting, and trapping interests, notes that the current formula, whereby states are required to provide 25% of the funds needed to undertake a shooting range project with non-Pittman-Robertson funds, has caused some Pittman-Robertson funds to go unused because states don’t have the matching funds they need to provide. The CSF argues that the added flexibility this bill provides would give states “additional opportunities to build and develop shooting range projects over multiple budget cycles while enhancing their ability to maintain existing ranges.”
Summary by Lorelei Yang
(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Gogosvm)