January 22, 2024

State Firearms and Ammunition Excise Taxes Proposed in WA & NM

Article Contact: Barry Snell, Marie Neumiller,

Why It Matters: Law-abiding hunters and recreational shooters have long played a vital role in funding conservation through various wildlife management nationwide. Recently, state legislatures have begun proposing state excise taxes in addition to the existing manufacturer-level taxes already being paid under federal law. Under the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), a unique “user pays — public benefits” program, sportsmen and women generate hundreds of millions of dollars each year for Fish & Wildlife agencies. These funds are generated through license sales and a 10-11% manufacturer-level excise tax on sporting-related goods, including firearms and ammunition. Decreased firearm and ammunition purchases that result from additional taxes and costs would have a negative impact on conservation funding. 


  • In New Mexico, Senate Bill 90 (SB90) has been introduced during the 2024 legislative session that if passed, would impose an 11% excise tax on all firearms, firearms parts, ammunition, and suppressors.
  • Additionally, legislators in Washington State have proposed House Bill 2238 (HB2238), imposing an 11% “privilege” tax on consumers for all ammunition sales.
  • As reported previously, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) actively opposed similar legislation in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York in recent sessions, and will continue to work against this misguided legislation in 2024 in both New Mexico and Washington

Each year the recreational shooting and hunting industries contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to conservation, hunter education, shooting ranges, and other programs through the Pittman-Robertson excise tax. Combined with hunting and fishing license sales and a similar manufacturer-level tax in the recreational fishing and boating industries (Dingell-Johnson/Wallop-Breaux), this American System of Conservation Funding creates a “user pays, public benefits” program aimed at supporting state fish and game agencies. Since its inception in the early 1900’s, the Pittman-Robertson portion of the ASCF has collected over $12.5 billion dollars which were subsequently distributed out to the states to be put on the ground for conservation.

Despite strong opposition from the hunting-conservation and shooting sports communities, several state legislatures are proposing, and have even passed, additional excise tax levies on firearms and/or ammunition. The passing of AB 28 in California in 2023 has led several state legislators to introduce similar legislation, as recently seen in Washington and New Mexico. Placing new taxes on firearms and ammunition is fraught with unintended consequences that can reduce state’s access to conservation funding. Reduced sales will not only harm local businesses in the taxing state, but it will also potentially reduce the federal Pittman-Robertson revenues.

Earlier this month, a lawmaker in New Mexico  introduced Senate Bill 90, a particularly egregious piece of legislation that would impose an additional 11% excise tax on all firearms, firearms parts that can be turned into a firearm, ammunition, and suppressors.  This tax would be collected by retailers and the proceeds placed in the crime victims reparation fund, as well as a fund for children and families involved in abusive or neglect situations.  As New Mexico has so-called “universal background checks” which requires private sales to be conducted through an FFL, this new tax appears to also apply to gun transfers between private individuals and family members.  Further, some of the language implies that even if someone receives a firearm as a gift or payment for a service, the recipient of the firearm must also pay the tax.  Regardless of the intent of this bill, the vague and confusing nature of it makes it bad policy from the start.

In Washington State, House Bill 2238 was introduced into the House of Representatives on January 9, with 15 co-sponsors. Currently referred to the Finance Committee, this bill does not yet have a Committee hearing scheduled. If enacted, HB2238 would place an 11% excise tax on each retail sale, and would be levied on every person in the state for the “privilege” of using ammunition as a consumer. Revenue generated by this state tax would be earmarked for suicide prevention and firearm-related domestic violence programs.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation actively opposed the Firearm and Ammunition Tax that passed in California in 2023, as previously reported. CSF and our partners are working to oppose the 2024 proposals in both New Mexico and Washington as well, as these policies are likely to have a negative impact on outdoor heritage, outdoor recreation opportunities, conservation funding, and hunter participation. CSF will continue to keep you updated on the status of these bills, and residents of each of the states are encouraged to contact their lawmakers to voice their opposition to these misguided policies.

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