Contact: Keely Hopkins, Pacific States Assistant Manager
Why It Matters: Oregon’s law-abiding hunters and recreational shooters have long played a vital role in funding conservation and wildlife management efforts throughout the state. Under the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), a unique “user pays – public benefits” structure, Oregon’s sportsmen and women generate tens of millions of dollars each year for the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. These funds are generated through license sales and a 10-11% federal excise tax on sporting-related goods, including firearm purchases. If passed, Initiative Petitions 17 and 18 would significantly impact conservation funding in the state by prohibiting the purchase of one of the most popular and commonly owned firearms, thereby decreasing the tax revenue available for wildlife management and conservation.
Coming just months after signature gathering began for Initiative Petition 13, a proposed measure that would ban all hunting, fishing and trapping in the state, Oregon now faces two additional ballot measures that would impact hunting and conservation efforts. Initiative Petition 17, which would require a permit to purchase a firearm and ban standard capacity magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds, and Initiative Petition 18 that would ban most semiautomatic firearms, have now been approved for signature gathering.
Both initiatives target some of the most popular and widely owned firearms in America. Modern sporting rifles with standard capacity magazines are commonly found in the hands of hunters and recreational shooters and are relied upon for their durability and versatility. Initiative Petition 17 and 18, if passed, would restrict access to these firearms for hunting and recreational shooting purposes, and would also reduce conservation funding in the state through decreased firearm sales.
Each year, Oregon’s hunters and recreational shooters contribute tens of millions of dollars to the Oregon 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. Under the Pittman-Robertson Act, Oregon’s hunters and recreational shooters pay a 10-11% excise tax on all firearm purchases, which in turn helps fund a large portion of the state’s wildlife management, conservation, and research efforts. Initiative Petition 17 and 18, if passed, would ban the sale of some of the most commonly purchased firearms, thereby significantly decreasing the tax revenue available for conservation funding from which all Oregon residents enjoy.
Proponents for these initiatives, including for Initiative Petition 13, will have until July of next year to gather just over 112,000 signatures to qualify for the 2022 ballot. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation is on the ground in Oregon and actively working with our partners in opposition to these initiatives as they move forward through the process.
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?