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By Mark Oliva

There was a time in America when universities taught young adults how to think, not what to think. Take an idea floated by two university professors who want to upend the funding firearm manufactures and importers pay for wildlife restoration and conservation. They want America to think because criminals misuse guns that the industry making them shouldn’t have a hand in wildlife conservation.

Two professors, John Cassellas Connors, Assistant Professor of Geography, Texas A&M University and Christopher Rhea, Assistant Professor of Public Affairs, The Ohio State University, propose this idea is essential because hunters are in decline and gun ownership is somehow immoral.

They propose that since criminals misuse firearms, the taxes generated by manufacturers, and supported by those who lawfully use firearms, should have no part in wildlife conservation. In a wild twist of logic, they claim, “This means that protecting public lands and wildlife is irrevocably linked to social violence.”

Duck hunt hunting dog labrador
Dan Z. for TTAG

This idea is a recipe for disaster for wildlife. Worse, it is an idea that attempts to divorce hunters from their role as conservationists.

Hard Data

Here are the up-to-date figures the two professors chose to ignore. Firearm and ammunition manufacturers have contributed over $14.7 billion since 1937 to the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund, through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, commonly known as the Pittman-Robertson Act. Contributions were so great in recent years that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced $1.5 billion was apportioned to the states for the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) Program, of which the Wildlife Restoration Fund is part. Of that $1.5 billion, firearm and ammunition excise taxes contributed $1.1 billion.

Those funds paid for the recovery of animal species including whitetail deer, Rocky Mountain elk, pronghorn antelope, wild turkeys and migratory waterfowl. It has also aided in the recovery of animals that sportsmen and women don’t hunt, including the American bald eagle.

A bald eagle carries a goose in the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near San Antonio, N.M.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

The professors were also wrong in their assessment of how the NSSF-led Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act works and what it will do for wildlife restoration. The two claimed that the law, also called the “Range Bill,” would siphon off money meant for wildlife conservation. In fact, money has always been available for states to construct new or improve existing public access gun ranges. The law, signed by President Donald Trump in 2019, made it more efficient for states to access those funds. Instead of a 25 percent match, states need only a 10 percent match to access 90 percent matching funds from USFWS’s WSFR funds.

That enables more gun owners to safely practice firearm safety, to attend hunter safety classes to obtain hunting licenses and, in turn, generate more funds to support wildfire conservation.

The professors were correct in one aspect. The overwhelming majority, as high as 80 percent of Pittman-Robertson excise taxes paid by manufacturing, is tied to recreational target shooting. They’re wrong again, though, that hunting participation is down. The authors showed that there were 11.5 million licensed hunters in 2016, but data showed that hunting numbers by 2018 were already topping 15.6 million. That still didn’t include the bump in hunting participation brought on by COVID-19 restrictions. Nearly every state saw increases in hunting licenses sales, but full year data for 2020 won’t be available until later this year. They also discounted the total of 38,854,259 hunting licenses, tags, permits and stamps sold 2020. That generated another $902,356,898 for wildlife conservation within the states.


Here are a few more figures for the professor to crunch. In 2020, there were 21 million background checks for sale of firearm. That included over 8.4 million people who purchased a firearm for the first time. In 2021, there were 18.5 million background checks for a gun sale, with over 5.4 million of them going to first-timers. Pew Research estimated at over 100 million Americans live in a household with a firearm, though that figure is likely low as many gun owners would self-select out of polling indicating their personal firearm ownership for privacy reasons. There are over 439 million lawfully-owned firearms in America today.

Pheasant Hunting In Wheelchairs
Duane Townsend, left, shoots a pheasant at Special Friday Pheasant Hunts, sponsored by Southern Tulare County Sportsman’s Association, at Lake Success Recreation Area in Porterville, Calif. A Utah man who has been in a wheelchair for more than three decades has created a pheasant hunt for people like him who need help getting into the outdoors. (Chieko Hara/The Porterville Recorder via AP, File)

Each one of those gun buyers was required to undergo an FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) verification to ensure they weren’t a person prohibited from possessing a firearm. That means they haven’t committed a felony that would preclude them from firearm ownership. That means they’re not criminals.

The professors need to do more studying. The firearm industry doesn’t sell firearms to criminals. Criminal misuse of firearms doesn’t represent today’s law-abiding gun owner. Conservation is in good hands because of excise taxes paid by firearm and ammunition manufacturers. Higher education, though, is suspect with professors like these.


Mark Oliva is Director of Public Affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation

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  1. “There was a time in America when universities taught young adults how to think, not what to think.”

    Yeah ended around 1970s. in the Ivy League

    • neiowa,

      I was thinking more like the middle 1960s.

      Communist affections really took hold in Academia in the 1960s in my humble opinion. In the 1970s, formal education and academic credentials ascended to hallowed status, with Academics insisting that only they had the intellect to understand our world and guide us to enlightenment. When members of Academia found that they were unable to win-over the populace to the “merits” of Communism in the 1960s and early 1970s, they then asserted their hallowed status, embarked on their mission to exploit people’s natural naivete, and simply began indoctrinating their students. And that effort continues to accelerate to this day.

      The only interesting question is how much their ego versus pure evil intentions are the basis of their drive to “enlighten” everyone.

      • Lenin…Nikolai, not John…..but, probably John also……said, “Give me the children and I will transform the country.” That’s the why behind “free college” for all, pre-school for your youngins….get ’em while their young, wet clay….., and Criminal Race Theory. er, Critical Race Theory… bad……in your public schools. Higher Indoctrination……ooopsie again, my bad……don’t ya just enjoy those Freudian slips…..Higher Education costs are one of the greatest unspoken wealth transfers from Conservatives to Libturd academia for polluting your kiddos’ minds. Xiden and our Prime Laughing Hyena want to forgive college debt because the costs are so high. Well, young college debtos, congrats you just made your first bad business decision. Tuition too high??? Make the colleges reimburse their exorbitant tuition….not we who have already paid our own college costs,

  2. Providing all the facts and figures regarding anything about this will only serve to strengthen their resolve on this matter.

        • Need to lay off the drugs, peegee, you’re seeing things again.

          Dealers shouldn’t use their own product.

        • It’s a big pharma product jwm.

          And it can help with your; ahem.. girth problem.

          Although if you quit being lazy and stop trying to take wheel chairs from the disabled, that would help even more.

        • Sense of humor completely flies over a trolls head. Not unexpected. But sad, really.

          This is your life. Stalking strangers in hopes of getting some sort of interaction.

    • I wish you absolutely no ill, jwm, but . . . I’m glad to see that our nameless, brainless, d***less troll picks on someone else besides me and Geoff. My only request is that, WHEN you curb-stomp his stupid @$$, please don’t kill him. I enjoy my games of whack-a-mole with the troll – he’s even stupider than dacian the stupid.

      • I’m amazed you have the time to be so active on TTAG, given the imaginary case load at your pretend law firm lol.

        Seriously, ‘Lamp’, take that remedial writing course before making another comment. You keep embarrassing yourself. Although I suppose you’re used to that by now….

      • Gee, nameless, brainless, d***less troll, you DO care, after all!!! I was afraid you’d abandoned me for Geoff and jwm. I see your ability to craft insults remains sub-par for a grade school retard. Work on that, would you? At least aspire to mere inadequacy, as unlikely as you are to achieve it. Complete failure, as you always seem to achieve, would be embarrassing to a thinking person – but, then, that isn’t a problem for you, is it??

        Go join your daily circle jerk with dacian the stupid and MinorIQ. Or go pound salt in your @$$. Whatever keeps you away from this forum.

  3. Not gonna happen! They convinced themselves long ago that they were smarter than anyone else in the room!! Arrogance and selective education rules their existance.

  4. From the beginning Gun Control has been loaded with insane wacky ideas like those that fueled racism and genocide. The aforementioned fact says the sneaky busy body backdoor nutty Gun Control professors john cassellas connors and christopher rhea are closet members of the kkk and the socialist nazi party…What Filth.

    • Based upon what I just read, I would say the best course of action would be to terminate these two moronic harebrains and prohibit them from having contact with students. How could they ever attain professorship when they are incapable of performing research prior to putting their musings out there in the public eye, showing how stupid and uniformed they truly are.

  5. I’d be overjoyed if the Pittman-Robertson Act was repealed and every endangered species in the US disappeared into the bowels of history, starting with the Democrats.

    • Ralph,

      Unfortunately, Dimocrats are not sufficiently endangered. As long as we have stupid, lazy, useless fellow “citizens” like dacian the stupid and MinorIQ, we’ll have idiots who will vote (several times per election) for whatever drooling, mouthbreathing moron runs with a (D) behind their name.

  6. People give to much power & credit to these so called educators,
    They need to stay in the perimeters of the classes they were hired for. & any of the jerks that stray from their coarses should be fired immediately.
    Get RID of the teachers Unions. They hold the taxpayer hostage for their own benefits & beliefs.

    • NORDNEG,

      People give to much power & credit to these so called educators…

      I touched upon the very same idea in my comment above.


    On Friday night in Louisiana, a seven-month-old baby was shot in the head, caught in the crossfire during a drive-by shooting. In Norfolk, Va., an argument early Saturday over a spilled drink escalated into gunfire outside a pizzeria, killing two people, including a young reporter for the local newspaper.

    Later that same day in the Arkansas farming town of Dumas, an annual car show and community event to promote nonviolence became a bloody crime scene after a gunfight broke out, killing one and injuring more than two dozen people, including several children.

    And in Miami Beach, where spring break revelers have descended, officials this week declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew after a pair of weekend shootings.

    The surge in gun violence in the United States that began in 2020 as the pandemic set in and continued through a summer of unrest following the murder of George Floyd, shows no sign of easing. Homicides were up 30 percent that year, the largest annual recorded increase.

    Still, researchers estimate that there are at least 15 million more guns in circulation in the country than there would have been had there not been such a large increase in purchasing during the pandemic.

    Garen J. Wintemute, who researches gun violence at the University of California, Davis, said that while he was pleased to see the apparent reversal in the surge of gun purchases, “we have no choice but to live through the aftermath, whatever it is going to be. We’re doing that now.”

    Criminologists and researchers say no single cause explains the rise in gun violence, but they point to a confluence of traumatic events, from the economic and social disruptions of the pandemic to the unrest of 2020, as well as the accompanying surge in gun ownership.

    Dr. Wintemute said he worries that Americans increasingly see those they disagree with as the enemy.

    “We have lowered the bar, the threshold of insult or affront or whatever, that’s necessary for violence to seem legitimate,” he said.

    The rise in shootings comes as some Republican lawmakers in red states move to pass more permissive gun laws.

    • There’s your problem. You’re too stupid to realize gun violence does not exist.

      You really need to get an education. Not an indoctrination.

    • These shootings are not normally done by legal gun owners – there are already laws on the books that get overlooked and the “felony with a gun used” charged is almost always dropped – it should be the main issue, not a secondary one.

      • A lot of times cops will tear cars apart on a speeding stop and then slap some poor old guy with a felony for having a gun in his glovebox. Once Constitutional Carry comes into force that crap better stop. Now they want to criminalize having your phone to your ear while driving. I suppose the JBTs, bureaucrats, and co. want to look like they’re DOING SOMETHING so they can justify their budgets and special privileges.

      • Southern,

        Let’s make it easy – eliminate all humans, and you’d eliminate all crime. That is the ultimate goal of the Leftist/fascists – eliminate all except the true believers.

        • Look up Judge Death. Since crime was committed by the living he made life itself illegal.

          In my teens and for a while longer I read Judge Dredd in 2000AD. Surprisingly accurate predictions about the future based on current trends.

        • Lol. Lay off the OAN, take off the tinfoil hat and, most importantly, get out of the basement. You’ll find things aren’t as bad as your masters tell you they are. Or don’t. Either way, 🖕🤡!

    • It would be SO MUCH nicer if the excise and other taxes on firearms and ammunition could be earmarked for Antifa and BLM. They could make bigger, better, and more incindiary devices to throw at cops, and get bailed out of jail quicker, and have bigger riots, blocking and/or destroying yet more critical infrastructure.

  8. I just do not see the connections between gun control proposals racism and genocide. I [obviously ] come from the other side of the pond, the UK, where the vast majority of gun control measures of recent years have the wholehearted support of the electorate. THe population here have never seen, not even when gun possession was for all practical purposes unlimited , possessiion of firearms nessessary for self defence. Even in those far off days, before WW1 the Police Services of the UK remained generally UNARMED though if the nessessity arose Armed Security could be called on. We just did noit have a GUN CULTURE.
    Having said that I joined the local ARMY CADETS at the age of fourteen and byb the age of sixteen I was proficient enough with the Lee-Enfield .303 and the BREN .303 LMG to meet the UK Infantry Marksman Standard which is very high indeed. I was also pretty damn good with a 12 gauge. But that was the norm at the time and I’d say that half of my contemporaries were in some kind of Service Youth Organisation like the Army Carets , the Air Training Corps or the Sea Cadets. But this was only five or six years from the end of WW2 when the UK had been on, for a few years, an invasion alert. We had all experienced bombing from the German Luftwaffe and seen the many air battles at first hand and my particular part of the UK [EAST SUSSEX] was outside of the major cities THE heaviest bombed of the UK. But I personally did not know a single person who owned a Pistol or Rifle In fact I’ve still never seen, at 85 years old a hand gun or automatic weapon in the possession of anybody outside of the Security and Police Services. And very few rifles either outside of shooting clubs. That does NOT mean thatvthere are not a very considerable number of citizens that are not extremely compentent if needed in nthewir usage, It has been ex stimated that vthere are over ONE MILLION ex-service personnel under the age of 65 for a start and UK EX-SERVICE Personnel have been exceedingly well trained inn the use of all types of firearm. Some things you never ever forget.

    • Sounds like your doing okay for being 85 years old. Congratulations. – no sarcasm intended.

    • sir albert of nuttinghsm…By your own words of stupidity you are one huge politically inept history illiterate. Get off your behind and you study the history of Gun Control and the racism and genocide attributed to it. Perhaps you’ll realize you are nothing but a useful idiot waterboy for a history confirmed filthy agenda.

      Just because the UK is loaded with history illiterates who obviously know nothing about Brits begging the US for firearms during WWII does not make Gun Control fly. Brits without firearms was so bad during WWII the US had to manufacture single shot stamped steel pistols to airdrop to unarmed Brits with instructions to kill a nazi and get their weapon. Today those guns boxed are sought after by collectors.

      If truth be told… I suspect Brits would rather have handguns than the knives they have no option but to use to defend themselves.

      The only way fools like you and your ilk acquire any common sense about Gun Control and self defense is the hardway. However when your ignorance denies another their right of self defense and they are injured or killed you should be arrested and held liable alongside the perp who can use anything they put their hands on as weapon..

    • Of course someone from Britain doesn’t see gun control as racism – the Brits don’t need racism to oppress their poor folk, their class system does it just fine without having to resort to something as crass as discrimination driven by melanin content. Just keep the peasantry in it’s proper place and all is good with the world…yeah, it’s all worked out so well on the Sceptered Isle, being a paradise and all now…

    • to Albert

      I enjoy reading your perspective from the British point of view. But I have one suggestion that will make your posts easier to read and take less time. My old University professor from many decades ago drilled into his classes that its better to have too many paragraphs than not enough. One can therefore read through a post faster and comprehend it more quickly that way.

      I look forward to your continued participation on this forum. Top of the morning to you governor.

    • Albert the Subject,

      “I do not see the connection . . . ” Your world view encapsulated into six words. Get educated, not indoctrinated. “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Too bad you aren’t smart enough to embrace and understand the wisdom of the Bard. But that’s probably standard operating procedure for d***less subjects.

    • Yet if one wants one of the finest shotguns or big game rifles in the world, they are manufactured in England by firms with ancient histories. The only reason Brits didn’t have a “gun culture” is because the aristocracy forbade the peasants from hunting. Which of course didn’t stop the lords and ladies from hunting to their hearts content.

      • Mark hit on it here. In the early days of the US, there were very few castles for the serfs to run to for protection by the landowner and his army. There were a few scattered forts, but there wasn’t one in every community. Provision and protection were the responsibility of every individual man, and this place was a wild frontier for the first, what, 200 years? Our system was built with that concept of individualism as the foundation, and firearms as one of the necessary tools. One could argue that we still have frontiers, at the fringes of the gang infested inner cities for example. Contrast that with what we call euroweenies and their dependence on their government overlords, which seems to be a natural progression from the serfdom of the days of yore.

        The minute we relinquish our individualism and lay down our arms, is the minute we become serfs.

    • Do you the first gun control laws passed in the UK were just after WW1? The events to cause this were the Russian revolution where the monarchy and aristocracy were eliminated and the Irish revolt.

      The Establishment was a bit concerned by these events, especially as their own numbers were greatly diminished by the war.

  9. I suppose they could use the money for more Gunm Free zone signs.
    Maybe the Wildlife Restoration Act tax should include skateboards and spray paint .
    Dont Dingle my Johnson I shoot carp with a .44.

  10. “There are over 439 million lawfully-owned firearms in America today”
    I think you meant that there are 439 million firearms that have a registered buyer(at one time). Remember that there were 10s(if not 100s) of millions of firearms sold in this country before those laws came into being. Many weapons had serial numbers, many did not. Many European self loading handguns were sold in the US without any identification. Any collector will tell you there are many that were bought for “just in case”. When these are sold, many times with the original box and a box of period ammo, it just shows how many are still out there. even pristine, these rarely fetch big prices, so that means they are very common. These sat for decades in a man’s top drawer or nessesaries box(where he kept grooming tools, cuff links, comb, etc.).
    There are also shotguns, revolvers, other tools of the west(trappers/hunters/cowboys) that have been handed down. Also, how many came back in dufflebags from war? These are all legal firearms(in most states), and there is no way to count them.
    Any hardware store in the late 40s-60s had barrels of weapons that anyone could buy. Magazines had mail order rifles for sale. There is no way to count all the unregistered legal firearms.

    • Don’t forget the thousands (more likely millions) of home-built firearms out there, or the fact that any moron (well, except MinorIQ and dacian the stupid) with $20 bucks COULD (if they had the wit) go to their local Home Depot and buy parts to make a functional firearm. Any purblind fool could tell you that “regulating” firearms is an idiot’s exercise in failure. Probably why MinorIQ and dacian pursue it so assiduously.

  11. In answer to our alleged British visitor. I seem to remember a few years ago that people were using whatever ad hoc weapons they could during the very violent riots. I also remember gentleman had to use a narwhal tusk to defend himself and others from a knife wielding terrorist. I’d be willing to bet a couple pounds the folks so disarmed would have been extremely grateful to have a handgun available. Please don’t confuse legal firearm ownership and use with criminal use. A large portion of the shootings in the US are the result of criminals shooting at, or in the general direction of other criminals. While our media makes it sound like the US is a war zone from sea to sea, it is not. Even in our larger cities, the majority of crime is contained to certain neighborhoods.
    In response to the professors, perhaps they should descend from their ivy covered towers and get some real life experience. Few of those in Academia have ever actually had to work for a living or live in the real world away from politics or schools. Those few who have usually end up ostracized by their fellows because they don’t follow the same socialist/politically correct/progressive/snowflake narrative.

    • Yes. Even serfs have an instinctive desire for self-preservation, though they try to bury it.

      As for professors, well, I generally support the pursuit of higher education if done with a useful purpose in mind, but as for professors, well, those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach.

  12. I have a feeling these perfessers wouldn’t mind the money so much if hunting were banned but wildlife protected.


  14. “Firearm and ammunition manufacturers have contributed over $14.7 billion since 1937 to the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund, through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, commonly known as the Pittman-Robertson Act.”

    Firearm and ammunition consumers paid the tax. Corporations don’t really pay taxes; anything they pay gets passed through to the consumer through higher prices.

    That said, why should someone who buys a gun or ammo for self-defense or competition (i.e. any purpose that’s not hunting) have to pay a tax to support hunting? It sort of undermines the argument that the 2nd Amendment isn’t about hunting if anytime we want to exercise it we have to pay a tax to support hunting.

  15. It is not unusual for many academics to be misinformed about arms related issues, especially the Second Amendment itself. Take, for example, the fifteen PhD holding historians who filed a pro-control brief in the Heller case. They made at least sixteen assertions regarding specific historical documents that the documents themselves directly contradicted. In one case, an early state constitution contradicted them three times in three separate places. It was so bad that Justice Stephens’ Heller dissent itself contradicted the historians’ brief twice, and he never cited them for any American History (only once for English Bill of Rights History).

    It is difficult to imagine academics being more incorrect about any subject than those responsible for the historians’ Heller brief. It is a textbook example of ideology over historical reality. Thus, I felt compelled to go through the historians claims and fact check them, as well as note missing information that is essential for understanding development of the Second Amendment and its many state and proposed federal bill of rights predecessors. My documentation of the professional historians’ numerous errors and omissions are located in short posts at my Google blog, On Second Opinion. The first post, Root Cause of Never-ending Second Amendment Dispute Part 1 is located here:

    The Fisking Index Page link at page top provides direct links to all twenty-four parts of the Root Causes series. If you are a 2nd Amendment history buff – Enjoy!

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