August 31, 2020

Sportsmen and Women Targeted in Governor’s Revised Budget Proposal in New Jersey

Contact: Brent Miller, Senior Director, Northeastern States and States Program Administrator

On August 25, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy published a revised budget proposal for the 2021 fiscal year, which includes, among other items, an increase in firearms fees and the institution of an excise tax on firearms and ammunition (estimated to generate $6.3 million), and removing the sales tax exemption and total tax cap on new and used boats (estimated to generate $7 million).

Governor Murphy cites the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as having a “uniquely devastating impact on the state of New Jersey.” However, his plan to begin to close the deficit results in tax increases to the tune of $1.02 billion, and unfortunately, boats, firearms, and ammunition are included among the many other items that sportsmen and women would soon be paying more for, should the Governor’s plan stand.

As reported by Larry Keane (Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation Board Member and Senior Vice President for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation), “Gov. Murphy’s proposed antigun increases include raising the handgun purchasing permit fee 2,400 percent from $2 to $50; the cost of a firearm ID card by 1,900 percent from $5 to $100; the price of a handgun carry permit 7,900 percent from $50 to $400; the fee for a gun retail dealer license by 9,900 percent from $50 to $500; and the fee for a firearm manufacturer 900 percent from $150 to $1,500.” 

Sportsmen and women are the financial backbone of conservation funding for the Garden State through the American System of Conservation Funding, and recreational shooters spend even more money on firearms and ammunition (per capita) than hunters. The taxes and fees proposed by the Governor are very likely to hurt the state in the long run by decreasing participation and spending among New Jersey’s sportsmen and women who collectively generate $1.26 billion in economic activity and support nearly 17,000 jobs – all to make up less than a quarter of one percent of the State’s current deficit.

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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