May 14, 2015

Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs Comment on Proposed BATFE Ammunition Ban

Recently, Governors Earl Ray Tomblin (D-WV) and Terry Branstad (R-IA), Co-Chairs of the bipartisan Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus (GSC), issued a letter to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), strongly supporting the agency’s decision on March 10, to table a recent framework that would have banned one of the most commonly used rounds by recreational shooters.

The proposed framework would have repealed the exemption of common M855 (5.56 x 45mm) ammunition from the “armor piercing” classification previously granted to the popular round, as it was recognized that the rounds are most commonly used for sporting purposes. In their letter, the GSC Co-Chairs urged BATFE to “consider removing M855 ammunition from the ‘armor piercing’ classification entirely, as it does not meet either of the two criteria set forth for being designated ‘armor piercing.’”

Governors Branstad and Tomblin, along with the hunting and recreational shooting communities, expressed concern over the implications the proposed framework would have on funding for conservation and state fish and wildlife management agencies. Bans or restrictions on a widely used round like the M855 could very likely result in depressed ammunition sales and a subsequent decline in excise tax revenues collected from the sale of such ammunition, which would mean reduced funding for professional state fish and wildlife management.

Tomblin and Branstad further urged BATFE to maintain an open dialogue with their respective offices and with state fish and wildlife agencies, and that they “strongly encourage BATFE to consider the impacts of policies that would jeopardize state fish and wildlife agencies’ access to revenue that is dedicated to protecting public trust resources through professional wildlife management.”

Formed in 2009, and currently with 30 members, the GSC is a bipartisan caucus of governors formed to protect and advance the interests of America’s sportsmen and women, and advance professional fish and wildlife management policy. The GSC facilitates communication and information exchange between participating offices in support of policies and regulations that protect and advance hunting, angling, recreational shooting and trapping.

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?

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