A broad coalition of hunting and conservation organizations applauded Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo for vetoing a bill that would have hindered thousands of Nevada’s youth hunters from safely using shotguns and rifles commonly used in hunting.
On May 17th, Gov. Lombardo vetoed Assembly Bill 355, which would have prohibited anyone under the age of 21 from using or possessing semiautomatic shotguns and centerfire rifles of any type.
While the supporters of the bill framed the legislation as restricting access to “assault weapons,” there was no exception made in AB 355 for the common semiautomatic shotguns and rifles widely used in bird and big game hunting. Nor did the bill’s backers acknowledge that generations of hunters have passed down common semiautomatic hunting rifles and shotguns as family heirlooms. Federal hunting regulations have for decades prohibited bird hunters from having more than three rounds while hunting in any shotgun, semi-automatic or otherwise.
“Our organizations represent the interests of hundreds of thousands of youths and families that enjoy the safe and legal traditions of hunting with firearms in Nevada,” said Keely Hopkins, Firearms Policy Manager at the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. “The new restrictions proposed under AB 355 would have created additional barriers to entry for youth and families hunting in Nevada. This would have very likely resulted in fewer new hunters enjoying this outdoor family activity and diminished the positive impacts that hunting has on Nevada’s natural habitats and the fish and wildlife they support.”
“With its proposed prohibition on firearms commonly used by youth hunters, this legislation would have dramatically and negatively impacted youth hunting opportunities,” said Kyle B. Swanson, Ducks Unlimited’s Nevada public policy chairman. “It would also hinder Ducks Unlimited’s ability to recruit future conservation leaders, secure financial support for conservation programs and protect our waterfowling heritage. We applaud Gov. Lombardo for supporting safe youth hunting opportunities and protecting critical conservation funding for Nevada.”
The coalition urged Gov. Lombardo to veto AB 355 due to the burdens it put on law-abiding hunters and the significant barriers the bill would create for youth and families hunting in Nevada.
Hunters and anglers have long had an outsized impact on protecting habitats and wildlife, serving as the primary funders of state-level conservation for more than 85 years. Nevada hunters contribute to conservation funding when purchasing firearms, ammunition and hunting licenses.
Through the North American Model of Conservation Funding, state hunting license fees go directly back into conservation to protect lands, waters and habitats important to Nevada’s wildlife. Likewise, the federal Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937 dedicated an excise tax on the sale of firearms and ammunition that contributes millions of dollars each year directly into state conservation efforts.
The coalition was concerned this bill would have worked against the ambitious goals outlined in a nationwide campaign known as the “R3” program to recruit more hunters and anglers to stave off a troubling decline in conservation funding.
“The Nevada Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers supports Gov. Lombardo’s veto of AB355 that would effectively criminalize youth hunting and the teaching of our hunting traditions to our youth hunters,” said Nicholas Maus, Nevada chapter chairman for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. “This bill would have created a barrier to entry for hunters and would hinder the chapter’s R3 membership goals.”