Sometimes it would appear that even a conservative and 2nd Amendment supporter can get things wrong. A concerning piece of legislation was just introduced by Georgia Representative Andrew Clyde (R). This legislation entitled the Return Act (Return our Constitutional Rights Act, H.R 8167) would repeal the Pittman-Robertson excise tax.
Generally, any tax repeal would get two thumbs up. However, the Pittman-Robertson is the primary source of wildlife conservation funding for all states.
Perhaps then this piece of legislation is not so great.
Even Mark Oliva of the NSSF described the Return Act as “a terribly misguided piece of legislation” and that’s decidedly not an exaggeration.
Representative Clyde is apparently overlooking a key fact about the excise tax: it was requested by the people who would be paying it — hunters, shooters, and ammunition makers.
His argument for the repeal of the 85-year-old tax is that it is unconstitutional, and while that may be true, it’ll leave a massive hole in wildlife conservation funding.
An interesting side note, Representative Clyde owns a gun store in Georgia named Clyde Armory. While it would appear that Clyde is motivated by a desire to protect Second Amendment rights, it would also appear he stands to gain from repealing the federal excise tax on the product he sells.
No doubt a conflict of interest.
In short, this legislation is poorly thought out and provides no sustainable way to replace comparable funds to state wildlife agencies for conservation efforts.
What is the Pitman-Robertson Act?
- In 1937, hunters actually requested an 11% tax on guns, ammo, bows and arrows to help fund conservation.
- That tax generates $371 million a year for conservation.
- Provides funds for hunter education programs state to state.
- So far, the tax has raised more than $8 billion for wildlife conservation.
Hunters and shooters pay for conservation and the Pittman-Robertson Act is an integral part of those efforts.
- All-together, hunters pay more than $1.6 billion a year for conservation programs. No one gives more than hunters!
- Every single day U.S. sportsmen contribute $8 million to conservation.
- Hunting funds conservation AND the economy, generating $38 billion a year in retail spending.
These fees, taxes, and contributions along with modern day conservation efforts by state and federal wildlife management agencies have long outpaced any stated efforts by those claiming hunting is always a bad thing.
What do these conservation efforts and funds really mean on the ground? It means, lands set aside and purchased for wildlife (habitat), water improvements, travel corridors (over, under, or around major roadways), supporting state game and fish agencies/anti-poaching programs, re-establishment of wild populations, and education programs to mention but a few.
When you couple the above-mentioned fees and taxes with the additional support of conservation organizations, there is little room for doubt of how sportsmen and women drive the efforts for wildlife conservation today.
Although there will always be those that will never support or agree with hunting and shooting, as a general rule most folks, while not hunters themselves, understand that regulated hunting is in fact necessary for the long-term survival of many species.
There are many anti-hunting groups floating around today that will disclaim the preceding statement, but the facts are well documented and be traced back to the establishment of the Pitman-Robertson Act of 1937.
It cannot and should not be repealed.