On June 22 Congressman Andrew Clyde (R-GA) introduced H.R. 8167, the RETURN (Repealing Excise Taxes on Unalienable Rights Now) Our Constitutional Rights Act of 2022, a short-sighted bill that would gut the nation’s most successful wildlife conservation funding and hunting and shooting access program known as the Pittman-Robertson Act.
The bill introduced in the House by Rep. Clyde would dismantle the most important and significant wildlife conservation funding program in the nation, an effort categorically opposed by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation.
The Pittman-Robertson Act directs industry and user-supported excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment to provide on-the-ground funding for wildlife conservation, target shooting range construction, efforts to increase public hunting access, hunter education programs, hunter and recreational shooting recruitment efforts, among other staple sporting-conservation programs.
Since the Pittman-Robertson Act was enacted in 1937, the program has served as the bedrock funding program to increase and promote our hunting and recreational shooting heritage. This legislation jeopardizes the important role maintained by sportsmen and women and threatens their seat at the decision-making table.
Why it matters:
To date, the Pittman-Robertson Act has generated over $15 billion in critical funding to conserve wildlife, improve recreational shooting and hunting access, fund hunting education programs, and other programs that are vital to our hunting and recreational shooting heritage.
Just last year alone, the Pittman-Robertson Act provided over $1.5 billion in on-the-ground funding for state wildlife agencies to build public target shooting ranges, purchase wildlife management areas to increase public hunting opportunities, conserve game species, and to recruit America’s next generation of sportsmen and women. This legislation threatens to dismantle the current funding structure.
Enacted in 1937 at the request of hunters and the manufacturers of firearms and ammunition, the Pittman-Robertson Act directs industry and user-supported excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment to be used for wildlife conservation purposes and programs to increase access for hunting and target shooting.
The Pittman-Robertson Act is one of three pillars of the American System of Conservation Funding, a “user-pays, public-benefits” structure that is unique to the rest of the world, in which those that consumptively use public resources pay for the privilege, and in some cases the right, to do so.
Unfortunately, H.R. 8167 ignores the value of this program, and seeks to disregard the input of the very industries and users who pay this critical funding as well as who overwhelmingly support the program.
By ignoring the wide-spread industry and user support for excise taxes on firearms, ammunition and archery equipment, including the support of the very manufacturers who pay these excise taxes, H.R. 8167 severely threatens America’s hunting and recreational shooting heritage. With this in mind, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) is actively opposing this legislation and urging Members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus to oppose this legislation. CSF is unwavering in our opposition to this bill.
In May, CSF helped lead a letter that was signed by 43 of the top hunting and recreational shooting organizations in strong support of the Pittman-Robertson Act in its current form. Read the proposed bill here.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to oppose H.R. 8167 and other efforts that seek to undermine our hunting and recreational shooting heritage.