April 4, 2022

Ocean State Sportsmen’s Policies Front and Center

Contact: Joe Mullin, Northeastern States Manager

Why it Matters: Sportsmen and women continue to serve as the primary funders of state-level conservation efforts in Rhode Island and across the nation and are thus an important constituency that provides benefits for all recreators. For this reason and several more, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has a tenured history in fighting against restrictive legislation and supporting policies that expand access and opportunities for all sportsmen and women. In Rhode Island, CSF has engaged in countless legislative efforts that span across the board. Protecting and advancing our time-honored traditions is mission-centric to CSF, and the Foundation will continue to serve as the sportsmen’s voice in our nation’s capitols.

On March 30, the Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee convened for a public hearing on numerous sportsmen’s policy priorities. CSF submitted both letters of support and opposition as testimony for the following bills:

H. 6616CSF Opposed – This bill would require purchasers to undergo a background check prior to buying any ammunition or ammunition loading parts, thus creating an unnecessary hurdle for sportsmen and women.

H. 7457 – CSF Opposed – This bill would unjustifiably prohibit the sale of rifles, shotguns, and ammunition to anyone below the age of 21 years old. It would undoubtedly curtail sales and therefore deflect much needed American System of Conservation Funding dollars away from the Department of Environmental Management (DEM).

H. 7889 – CSF Opposed – This legislation would create a one-mile circumference discharge distance around “any school kindergarten through grade twelve (K-12) and all grounds and sports fields connected thereto,” placing outdoor gun ranges under threat of closure from costly litigation. It may also result in a diminishment of conservation funding for the DEM.

H. 7762CSF Supported – This legislation would extend the right to personal protection to bowhunters while in the field by authorizing those with valid concealed carry permit issued by the State of Rhode Island to “carry and possess their pistol or revolver” while hunting deer.

On March 31, the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee met for a similar public hearing. CSF submitted letters of support and opposition [JM3] for the following policies:

S. 2637CSF Opposed – This bill would unjustifiably restrict the sale of rifles, shotguns, and ammunition to anyone below the age of 21 years old, which would likely result in an unintended and consequential diminishment of the state’s conservation funding.

S. 2653CSF Opposed – This legislation would subject an individual to up to five years imprisonment or a fine of up to $5,000 for manufacturing, selling, offering to sell, transferring, purchasing, possessing, or having control over magazines that are some of the most common types of firearm magazines in circulation today.

S. 2224CSF Opposed – This bill would prohibit the manufacture, sale, purchase, and possession of “assault weapons,” which by this bill’s definition, targets certain firearms and associated features that are quite common within the hunting and recreational shooting communities.

S. 2359/S. 2403 CSF Supported – Introduced by Rhode Island Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Gordon Rogers, these bills would authorize the possession and use of firearm suppressors and allow sportsmen and women to protect their hearing while recreationally shooting, and in the case of S. 2403, hunting.

CSF will continue to work to protect and advance the interests of sportsmen and women in the Ocean State.

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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