Why it matters: H.R. 1808 seeks to ban many semi-automatic rifles and shotguns commonly used by America’s sportsmen and women in hunting and recreational shooting. Modern sporting rifles and semi-automatic shotguns not only important to our hunting heritage but are highly popular in the recreational shooting community. This legislation would severely undermine our hunting heritage, firearm rights, and America’s most successful wildlife conservation program – the Pittman-Robertson Act.
On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1808, the Assault Weapons Ban of 2022, a misleading bill that is strongly opposed by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF). H.R. 1808 would ban many commonly used modern sporting rifles and other semi-automatic rifles, highly popular semi-automatic shotguns, and institute other restrictive laws that would have a minimal impact on crime. Specifically, the legislation would ban commonly used shotguns by hunters and recreational shooters such as the Benelli Super Black Eagle III, Browning A5, Beretta A300 Ultima, Franchi Affinity 3, and the Mossberg 940. H.R. 1808 seeks to ban these firearms based largely on aesthetics and certain cosmetic accessories that do little to nothing to change the core function of the firearm.
Furthermore, manufacturer level excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment are critically important to our nation’s conservation efforts through the Pittman-Robertson Act, a pillar of the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF). Specifically, the Pittman-Robertson Act directs an 10-11% percent manufacturer level excise tax to be used exclusively for state-based wildlife conservation funding. Since 1937, the Pittman-Robertson Act has generated over $15 billion in “user pays – public benefits” funding to promote wildlife conservation, recruit hunters and recreational shooters, and to increase opportunities for hunting and recreational shooting. Just this year alone, through the excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment, the firearm and archery industry contributed approximately $1.1 billion in funding to state fish and wildlife agencies. Roughly 80% of this funding is directly attributed to recreational target shooters who are often using the very same tools that H.R. 1808 seeks to ban.
In years past, CSF has encouraged and worked with Congress to pass legislation that would strengthen our nation’s firearm heritage rather than placing an arbitrary ban on certain firearms and accessories. For example, in 2018, CSF applauded the Congressional passage of the FIX NICS Act, a bill that sought to improve our national background check system. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to oppose H.R. 1808 and other short-sighted efforts that seek to severely limit and restrict our hunting heritage and firearms rights.
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?