Silencer Central has rounded up support for a new bill that was introduced in Congress yesterday that would divert tax stamp revenue from the sale of suppressors to the Pittman Robertson conservation fund, to fund shooting ranges, and to ATF’s NFA Division to cut Form 1 and Form 4 approval times.
They’re calling the bill the Tax Stamp Revenue Transfer for Wildlife and Recreation Act. Silencer Central’s honcho Brandon Maddox tells TTAG that the bill has bipartisan backers on both sides of Congress.
You can read the bill here.
Here’s the backers’ description of what they’re trying to do . . .
Under the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA), all applicants are required to pay a $200 tax stamp as part of submitting a background check and transfer application to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). In recent years, revenues generated by the tax stamp have grown 40% annually, and total revenues generated are expected to approach $200 million in 2023.
Under current law, this funding is deposited into the U.S. Treasury without any specific direction. Under the Tax Stamp Revenue Transfer for Wildlife and Recreation Act, funding would be strategically allocated to both expedite ATF processing and support wildlife conservation and recreation. Specifically, 15% of the total revenue would go to the ATF’s NFA division, aimed at expediting the processing of suppressor applications within a 90-day timeframe. The remaining 85% would be split further: 85% would be allocated to the Pittman Robertson Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund to support wildlife conservation, law enforcement, hunter recruitment, and other related activities, while 15% would be earmarked for the development, maintenance, and operation of recreational shooting ranges. These dedicated ranges enhance safety, reduce environmental impact, and contribute to the recruitment and retention of ethical hunters and shooters. Recent data shows that a significant portion of Pittman Robertson funds are generated by recreational shooters, indicating that more ranges would further bolster conservation funding.
While suppressors continue to become more popular, the extensive registration and processing paperwork can lead applicants to waiting close to a year for approval by the ATF—despite the Bureau’s recent implementation of an electronic form portal for processing applications.
The North American model of wildlife conservation is the most successful of its kind in the history of the world. The fundamental premise of the model is that hunters and anglers voluntarily participate in a ‘user pays’ system. America’s sportsmen and sportswomen have generated historically high federal receipts and duties from equipment sales into conservation programs. However, according to the Treasury, revenues for these programs have declined by double digits in recent years.
Suppressors are increasingly popular accessories that improve ballistics, enhance accuracy, reduce recoil, and alleviate hearing impairment while reducing user conflicts. Suppressors are one of the most vital and effective tools to recruiting and retaining new demographics of hunters and shooters, particularly women and young people, to shooting sports.
The Tax Stamp Revenue Transfer for Wildlife and Recreation Act would further such opportunities and build upon our rich conservation heritage by increasing conservation funding and enhancing the capacity and efficiency of the ATF and FBI in the processing of applications for suppressors.
The additional funding for Pittman Robertson is obviously a sweetener to get “moderate” and red state Democrats to support the bill. How many that will convince is less than clear.
‘But wait,’ you say. ‘How do we know that processing times will improve if tax stamp money is shoveled at the ATF?’
The bill has language giving the NFA branch a 90-day window, much like the three business day processing limit the FBI has for NICS background checks. Under the bill, if ATF fails to process a Form 1 or Form 4 within 90 days, the retailer could then choose to complete the sale and deliver the suppressor.
Not everyone is a fan of Pittman Robertson. While supporting conservation and wildlife preservation is very motherhood and apple pie, those funds come from the only tax on the exercise of a constitutional right that’s imposed in America. That said, the bill would supplement P-R by redirecting $200 tax stamp revenue that’s already being imposed and collected as part of the National Firearms Act.
Don’t expect the bill to get very far. While the drafters have obviously put some thought into features designed to give it the broadest possible appeal, we’re in an election year with a mostly dysfunctional Congress. While it might be possible to get something like this tacked onto another bigger, “must-pass” bill, the chances seem…slim at best.