Legislation Frees Funds for State Range Construction
NEWTOWN, Conn. — The National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®), the firearms industry trade association, praised the introduction of H.R. 1222, the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act of 2019 in the U.S House of Representatives. The bipartisan bill was authored by Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Rob Bishop (R-Utah).
“This is crucial legislation that would provide state fish and game agencies more flexibility to use Pittman-Robertson excise taxes dollars raised from the sale of firearms and ammunition to enhance existing public shooting ranges and to build new ones to meet the growing need for additional places for target shooters to participate in their sport,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “Public shooting ranges provide hunters a place to sight in rifles and shotguns before hunting seasons, for people to take firearm safety and hunter education courses and, for recreational target shooters to enjoy their sport. NSSF thanks Congressmen Kind and Bishop for recognizing the critical need and providing solutions to benefit recreational shooters and conservation.”
This legislation has been introduced in previous Congressional sessions, where it received overwhelming bipartisan support, but was never advanced to the president. The funds are derived from an existing excise taxes paid by firearms and ammunition manufacturers since 1937, with almost $12.1 billion raised for wildlife conservation supported by the sale of these products.
States are permitted to use some of those funds for hunter education courses and for public shooting ranges under a restrictive formula that has largely discouraged state agencies from building and enhancing public shooting ranges. The legislation would provide states greater flexibility on their ability to use Pittman-Robertson excise tax funds by increasing the cap of federal funds accrued for the creation and maintenance of shooting ranges from 75 to 90 percent. This means states could begin work on range facilities with 10 percent matching funds, instead of the current 25 percent. It would also enable excise funds to be made available and accrue for five years for land acquisition or range construction.
Target shooters are largely responsible for the funds derived through excise taxes from the sale of firearms and ammunition products. That money is directly responsible for habitat conservation, recreational shooting and wildlife management, making gun owners, hunters and manufacturers largest financial supporters of wildlife conservation throughout the United States. The development of new ranges will help encourage participation in hunting and the shooting sports, ensuring wildlife conservation funding through the Pittman-Robertson Act will continue for generations to come.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 12,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers. For more information, log on to www.nssf.org.