Contact: Keely Hopkins, Pacific States Assistant Manager
Why it Matters: California’s law-abiding hunters and recreational shooters have long played a vital role in funding conservation and wildlife management efforts throughout the state. Under the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), a unique “user pays — public benefits” structure, California’s sportsmen and women generate tens of millions of dollars each year for the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. These funds are generated through license sales and an 11% federal excise tax on sporting-related goods, including firearms and ammunition. Decreased firearm and ammunition purchases that result from additional taxes and costs would have a negative impact on conservation funding in the state.
California’s conservationists can breathe a sigh of relief… at least for now. The adjournment of the 2021 California Legislative Session was marked by several pro-sportsmen victories, including the defeat of Assembly Bill 1223 that would have imposed an 11% tax on all long gun and ammunition purchases, along with a 10% tax on handgun sales. While AB 1223 failed to advance this year, the bill will be carried over to next year’s session and can pass out of the Assembly with a floor vote before the January 31st cutoff deadline.
In addition to the defeat of AB 1223, several pro-sportsmen bills passed the legislature and are currently on the Governor’s desk awaiting his signature. Of note, Assembly Bill 804 (AB 804), which was introduced by Assemblywoman Dahle and co-authored by California Legislative Outdoor Sporting Caucus Co-Chairs Senators Jones and Dodd, passed the legislature with bipartisan support and would establish two “Free Hunting Days” each year. As part of a Recruitment, Retention, Reactivation (R3) effort to recruit new hunters, AB 804 aims to encourage new participation in hunting by those interested in the experience, but that might otherwise be deterred by an unfamiliar licensing process or by cost. Additionally, Assembly Bill 614 (AB 614) passed the legislature, which would expand upon the Nesting Bird Habitat Incentive Program by providing additional funds to preserve, restore, and develop migratory waterfowl breeding and wintering habitat.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) played an active role in the 2021 California Legislative Session, testifying at numerous committee hearings, joining coalition partners in submitting committee and floor letters, and utilizing social media and action alerts to engage stakeholders in the legislative process. CSF will continue to remain active in the state and work on issues of importance to protect and advance California’s rich outdoor sporting heritage.
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?