Contact: Kent Keene, Lower Midwestern States Coordinator
With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic still at the front of everyone’s minds, we are already beginning to witness the impact that actions taken in some states during the past year will have on state legislative sessions across the nation in 2021.
Some of the primary responses to the pandemic, which were opposed by many in the sporting and conservation communities, were executive and municipal actions that negatively affected the accessibility to firearms and ammunition (e.g., deeming firearm retailers “non-essential” during mandatory shutdowns) or limited the ability of sportsmen and women to use their firearms (e.g., closing access to public and private shooting ranges). These actions, in turn, hampered the ability of sportsmen and women to access the firearms and ammunition needed to participate in the hunting and recreational shooting activities that saw tremendous increases in participation rates throughout the country, as Americans searched for safe activities that could be performed in socially distanced settings. To protect Second Amendment rights, state legislators in many parts of the country are exploring opportunities to limit executive powers to prevent such actions from impacting the rights of sportsmen and women in the future.
In Texas, lawmakers have pre-filed three bills to limit the ability of the current and future governors from inhibiting access to firearms and ammunition during times of emergency. Texas House Bill 26 (HB 26), House Bill 340 (HB 340), and House Bill 629 (HB 629) each amend the Government Code by repealing the authority of the Governor to control, among other things, the sale, transportation, and use of weapons and ammunition.
While many governors, including Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Greg Abbott, did not issue executive orders that impacted the Second Amendment rights for their citizens, we expect to see similar efforts to implement safeguards in many state legislatures during the upcoming sessions. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation worked with governors and state legislators in 2020 to protect access to firearms and ammunition, as well as outdoor opportunities, during the coronavirus pandemic.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?