Gun and Ammo Taxes Result in $1.1B for Wildlife and Conservation

The surge in firearm and ammunition sales over the past few years has resulted in a lot of taxes paid on those items—so much that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last week that more than $1.1 billion in tax revenue would be allocated to states for conservation, shooting range development, hunting and shooter safety programs and other projects.

This story from Shooting Illustrated says it's about the same amount apportioned through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration programs for the 2015 fiscal year, when the amount surpassed $1 billion for the first time.

Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson place excise taxes paid on sporting firearms, ammunition, bow hunting equipment, fishing gear, electric boat motors, and taxes paid on motorboat fuel, to provide revenues for state fish and wildlife departments.

For reference, in 2014 the FWS apportioned $760 million from collected tax revenue. In 2012, it apportioned $371 million, the story says.

“Firearms and ammunition manufacturers have long been an integral part of this unique funding mechanism, collecting the excise taxes that hunters and shooters pay on sales of their products and providing those funds to the federal government prior to distribution to state wildlife agencies,” said Steve Sanetti, president and CEO of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. “Our industry is proud that 10-11 percent of the cost of every new rifle, pistol, and shotgun, and every round of ammunition sold, goes for these vital programs.”

The funding couldn't come at a better time, but it still may not be enough. Agencies like the Assocation of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, are in a conservation crisis at the moment because of an acute lack of funds needed to protect fish, wildlife, and habitat, according to this story from Field & Stream.

State fish and wildlife agencies get some of their funding from the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts mentioned above, but according to David Fruedenthal, former Governor of Wyoming and National Co-Chair of the Blue Ribbon Panel, which was assembled in order to find a source for funding, “Money from the hook-and-bullet crowd is not enough anymore.

"There are expectations by the public to look after non-game animals, but hunters and fisherman can't pay for it all," Fruedenthal said.

What's the solution? The Blue Ribbon panel says dedicating up to $1.3 billion annually from existing energy and mineral resource development revenues to funding for state fish and wildlife departments would do it. That's about 10 percent of the total $13 billion already collected from the sale of non-renewable resources, the story says. The fund is intended to be a permanent authorization.

“In 1937, sportsmen said, ‘Let’s tax ourselves to save game,’” said Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “The P-R Act and D-J Act resulted. This funding is the third piece of the triangle.”