Georgia: Air Gun Legislation Advances to Governor’s Desk

Contact: Clay Chester, Southeastern States Coordinator

On June 25, the Georgia House of Representatives concurred with the Senate version of House Bill 998 that passed on June 23. Sponsored by Georgia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) Member Representative Trey Rhodes, the legislation would extend the sunset date for the use of air guns until July 1, 2025.

The current law permits air guns to be used as legal weapons for hunting big game during specified seasons until July 1, 2020. The statute defines an air gun as any pistol, handgun, or shoulder-held device, each of not less than 0.30 caliber, or an air bow that propels a projectile in the form of a slug, shot or arrow equipped with a broadhead utilizing unignited compressed air or gas.

Air guns are capable of ethically harvesting large game and also provide hunters with a “hearing safe” alternative that produces far less sound than a traditional firearm. The legality of air gun use varies by state with various restrictions to specific calibers, seasons, game species or velocities.

Air guns are not taxed through the American System of Conservation Funding and thus do not contribute to conservation efforts in the same manner as firearms. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) supports taxing air guns through the Pittman-Robertson Act (PR), and until air guns are included in PR, CSF supports a state-level conservation stamp for hunters using an air gun to ensure that all legal methods of take contribute to conservation funding.

House Bill 998 currently resides with Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Brian Kemp for executive approval.

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Recently, Virginia has proposed legislation that would make the punishment for poaching, in their state, a 1-5 year prison sentence through HB-449. Poaching undermines the social acceptance of hunters, jobs, recreation, local and state economies, and conservation efforts. How should poachers be punished?

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