Today in the House Committee on Natural Resources, a bill passed to enhance and expand shooting ranges on public lands.
H.R. 788, or the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act, amends the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937 to lead to the construction of more public target ranges across 50 states. The four provisions entailed include:
(1) Authorizing a state to pay up to 90% of the costs of acquiring land for, expanding, or constructing a public target range;
(2) Authorizing a state to elect to allocate 10% of a specified amount apportioned to it from the federal aid to wildlife restoration fund for those costs;
(3) Limiting the federal share of those costs under such Act to 90%; and
(4) Requiring amounts provided for those costs under such Act to remain available for expenditure and obligation for five fiscal years.
The legislation received bipartisan support and was sponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter, Jr. (R-CA).
“This bill gives states much-needed flexibility to create safe, quality shooting facilities on public lands for hunters. It will also enable recreational shooters to further their education and training activities and ensure sportsmen and women continue enjoying a quality target shooting range experience. This bill is supported by a broad coalition of stakeholders and is a win-win for hunters, sportsmen and wildlife restoration.”
An 11% excise tax is imposed on firearms purchases—coupled with excise taxes from hunting/fishing licenses, bows, and similar outdoor gear—to go directly back to conservation efforts through the Pittman Robertson Act (1937), which is set to be modified and improved by the 115th Congress this year. Funds collected by the Department of Interior through this law are then distributed to the state wildlife agencies to apply to habitat and wildlife restoration efforts.
It’s undeniable hunters, anglers, and shooting sports enthusiasts are major players in conservation today. They are responsible for footing the bill for 80% of conservation efforts in this country, with respect to habitat and wildlife restoration efforts. Congress’s track record is undeniable abysmal, but when a good bill like this gets passed, it should be applauded.
H.R. 1026, the North Country National Scenic Trail Route Adjustment Act, revises the authorized route of the North Country National Scenic Trail in northeastern Minnesota and extends the trail into Vermont to connect with the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
H.R. 1037, authorizes the National Emergency Medical Services Memorial Foundation to establish a commemorative work in the District of Columbia and its environs.
H.R. 2991, the Susquehanna National Heritage Area Act, establishes the Susquehanna National Heritage Area in the State of Pennsylvania.
H.R. 4069 amends the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to clarify the treatment of authentic Alaska Native articles of handicraft containing nonedible migratory bird parts.
H.R. 4645, the East Rosebud Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, amends the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate certain segments of East Rosebud Creek in Carbon County, Montana, as components of the Wild and Scenic River System.
Expanding public lands access for shooting sports enthusiasts, hunters, anglers, and other outdoor enthusiasts has been a priority for the Trump administration’s Interior Department. In fact, they declared last August National Shooting Sports Month and are expected to continue that declaration going forward. Moreover, they launched a new council—the Hunting and Shooting Sports Conservation Council—in January to combat the lagging participation numbers in hunting, which dropped by 2 million Americans in the last five years.
We’ll keep you updated on similar legislation that emanates from Congress.