Why It Matters: California’s law-abiding hunters and recreational shooters have long played a vital role in funding conservation through various wildlife management efforts throughout the state. Under the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), a unique “user pays — public benefits” program, 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% manufacturer-level 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.
- On September 7th, Assembly Bill 28 (AB 28), which will impose an 11% tax on all firearm and ammunition sales in the state, passed the Senate with the required 2/3 majority vote and received a final concurrence vote by the Assembly. The bill is now with Governor Newsom awaiting his signature.
- AB 28 is inherently different from the excise taxes under the Pittman-Robertson Act, which are placed on manufacturers, rather than taxing an individual’s right to purchase a firearm or ammunition.
- The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has been actively opposing this legislation and was on the ground ahead of the Senate floor vote to advocate against this misguided policy.
Despite strong oppositional efforts from the hunting conservation community, Assembly Bill 28 passed the legislature on September 7th and is now awaiting Governor Newsom’s signature. Once implemented, AB 28 will impose an 11% tax on all firearm and ammunition sales in the state. The bill was allegedly designed to “mirror” the excise tax paid under the Pittman-Robertson Act, but AB 28 is inherently different because this tax is not placed on manufacturers, but instead taxes an individual’s right to purchase a firearm or ammunition.
The Firearm and Ammunition Tax Bill, originally AB 1223, was first introduced during the 2021 legislative session. The bill was defeated on the floor, however proponents used procedural maneuvers to add an “urgency clause” to the legislation, which exempted the bill from regular deadlines and rules and allowed the bill to be carried over to the 2022 session. Having not received a floor vote by the January 31, 2022 deadline, the proposal should have been defeated for the biennial session, yet proponents once again maneuvered their proposal forward by commandeering AB 1227 through a “gut and amend” tactic. The bill ultimately failed to pass in 2022, but unfortunately garnered the requisite support to pass the legislature this year.
Each year, California’s sportsmen and women contribute tens of millions of dollars to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, providing vital revenue to help carry out their mission of managing the state’s diverse fish and wildlife and the habitats upon which they depend. These funds are generated through fishing and hunting license sales, and through the purchase of sporting-related goods. Under the Pittman-Robertson Act, firearms and ammunition purchased by California’s hunters and recreational shooters are already taxed at the manufacturer-level through a 10-11% excise tax, which in turn funds a large portion of the state’s wildlife management, research, and other conservation efforts. AB 28 will now place an additional tax on top of these existing taxes, thereby driving up the costs of these goods, reducing their sales, and in turn, reducing the conservation funding from which all California residents benefit.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation has been actively opposing the Firearm and Ammunition Tax since it was first introduced in 2021 and was on the ground in Sacramento to advocate against this misguided policy ahead of the Senate floor vote. CSF and coalition partners have sent a letter to Governor Newsom to urge him to veto AB 28 and have requested to meet with office to share the negative impacts this policy will have on California’s outdoor heritage and conservation funding.