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The Roving Sportsman… Legislation

As responsible sportsmen, we have a duty to be aware of past legislation that affects our sport and pay attention to those laws that are being proposed that could affect the future of our outdoor activities. Part of the pride that hunters, fishermen, and conservationists can feel is reflected in some of those acts or laws.

The Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, which was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on September 2, 1937, and became effective the following year, is a prime example of how sportsmen are the greatest supporters of wildlife of all species.

The Act took over a pre-existing 11% excise tax on firearms and ammunition that had been going into the U.S. Treasury, and kept the funds separate, giving it to the Secretary of the Interior to distribute to the States. It is given to states based on the area of the state and its number of licensed hunters. States must submit a plan for the use of said monies, which can include research, surveys, management of wildlife, and/or habitat and acquisition or lease of land.

This one, very important, piece of legislation has provided states with funding for research and projects that would have otherwise been unaffordable. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as of January of 2010, over two billion dollars had been generated through the program. Another source found that hunters spend between 2.8 and 5.2 billion dollars a year on taxable merchandise, thus generating between 177 and 324 million dollars a year in Pittman-Robertson money! These are facts that all hunters and firearms owners can be proud of.

And then there is California! Yes, they are on the “left coast,” and yes, they seem to do some rather radical things at times. A perfect example is the passage of Proposition 63, which regulates the sale of ammunitions and became effective on July 1, 2019. Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, a longtime advocate of gun control, championed the new law. It is long, involved, and quite complicated, but the following are a few of the highlights of their newest gun law.

You must be a resident of California to purchase ammunition, and it requires a background check each and every time you make a purchase. You must make purchases in a face-to-face scenario, meaning that you cannot purchase ammunition directly via the internet or mail order. It must be delivered to a licensed dealer where you can then finalize the purchase. A background check for each purchase will cost $1.00 and should take 1 to 3 minutes. If required, you may be subjected to a more in-depth check, which costs $19.00 and can take up to ten days (or longer, no doubt!). An individual may not transport any ammunition across the state line.

Non-residents of California cannot transport any ammunition into the state of California and are restricted from purchasing ammunition within the state. All ammunition sales must be recorded by a licensed vendor, which means there will be permanent records kept of each and every ammunition purchase made.

An interesting note is that 63% of the voters said “yes” to California’s Proposition 63! Part of their desire is that it will set an example for other states to follow.

On the horizon is the reintroduction into the House of Representatives of The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which would provide $1.4 billion in dedicated annual funding to state and tribal fish and wildlife agencies. Such funds would go toward the conservation and monitoring of at-risk species as identified by recent meetings of state and tribal wildlife agency professionals addressing conservation and management of wildlife populations within their boundaries.

The National Wild Turkey Foundation, along with other conservation organizations, supports this proposed legislation, stating that the need for this legislation is urgent, as it will be a game-changer for wildlife conservation on the scale that the Pittman-Robertson Act was back in 1937.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission supports The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act and would stand to receive dedicated annual federal fish and wildlife conservation funding that could exceed $30 million to address the conservation actions for these species better.

While past legislation has been extremely beneficial on behalf of wildlife conservation, and while the future looks even brighter through proposed legislation, we must all pay attention to legislative matters to ensure that they are truly in the best interest of conservation and the future of hunting, shooting, fishing and all of the outdoor activities we currently enjoy.

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