Contact: Nick Buggia, Upper Midwestern States Manager
Why it Matters: Several large banks currently institute restrictions on the firearm and ammunition industry. Examples of such restrictions include prohibiting retailers who are customers of the banks from selling long guns to anyone under 21 years of age (despite the federal age of legal ownership being 18), ceasing loans to companies who manufacturer modern sporting rifles, and more. These restrictions impede business practices that are legal and already highly regulated. Such practices are concerning from a civil liberties standpoint and because the sale of firearms and ammunition are a vital part of our conservation funding matrix.
On February 15, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) testified before the South Dakota Committee on Commerce and Energy in support of Senate Bill 182 (SB 182). The bill would formally establish in statute that the state of South Dakota will not engage in contracts with financial institutions that discriminate against the firearm and ammunition industry unless it is vital for the financial stability of the State.
CSF has long supported bills such as this on behalf of the firearms and ammunition industries that are so important to sportsmen and women. Discriminatory practices such as those that this bill would protect against cause concern as they restrict civil liberties and could severely impact the American System of Conservation Funding, a “user pays – public benefit” funding mechanism by which those who consumptively use public resources pay for the privilege to do so. Through the Pittman-Robertson Act, excise tax revenue from firearms and ammunition, combined with the sale of hunting licenses to sportsmen and women who often utilize firearms and ammunition in their pursuits, provides a critical source of conservation funding that allow state fish and wildlife agencies to implement critical conservation efforts across the nation. Furthermore, we need to make sure that new participants can easily enter the sport to maintain this funding model.
While SB 182 did not pass out of committee, House Bill 1314, which contains the same language, recently passed out of the House Judiciary Committee, and awaits further action in the House. CSF will continue to monitor the progress of this legislation and similar legislation in other states.
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?