Ten bills were introduced on the first day of the 113th Congressional session that deal with firearms. Most of those seek to ban certain modern sporting rifles and restrict magazine capacity. In the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings it shouldn’t be a surprise to see gun bans and other anti-gun legislation being brought forward. It’s also no surprise that Second Amendment advocacy groups are fighting hard to stop this new legislation.
But there’s another facet to this story we all must consider: how all of these severely restrictive guns laws, if passed, would influence our public land access and conservation funding. Most folks don’t seem to realize that banning AR-15s would severely erode funding for popular access programs paid for by Pittman-Robertson funds.
Pittman-Robertson funds come from an excise tax placed upon firearms, ammunition and reloading supplies. In fiscal year 2012, that meant a proposed $370,759,585 were to be given to the state game and fish agencies to be used to increase access to landlocked public lands, create and fund new shooting ranges, protect some of our best habitat through conservation easements and help states pay for the management of non-game species so hunter and angler dollars weren’t used to manage long-legged Myotis rather than elk, trout, and bighorn sheep.