You might think it would be impossible to get a bill through the current House of Representatives that even remotely promotes the shooting sports, but that has actually happened. The Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act — also known as the Range Bill — passed the House on a bipartisan voice vote yesterday.
The bill allows for easier access to Pittman-Robertson funds — that’s the tax you pay on every single gun and round of ammunition — to build more shooting ranges around the country and maintain existing facilities. Here’s the NSSF’s press release with more details . . .
NSSF Commends Congress’s Passage of ‘Range Bill’
NEWTOWN, Conn. — The National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®), the firearms industry trade association, commends Congress’s passage of the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act (H.R. 1222). The bipartisan legislation, sponsored by U.S. Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. Companion legislation (S. 94) was previously passed by the Senate. The bill will return to the Senate for a legislative formality, but is expected to pass by unanimous consent as the bill language is identical, and be sent to President Donald Trump for enactment.
“This has been a key piece of legislation for NSSF to grow and sustain hunting and recreational target shooting that will additionally benefit wildlife conservation. We are deeply appreciative to our leaders on both sides of the aisle and on both sides of Capitol Hill for their perseverance and foresight to benefit state wildlife agencies, recreational target shooting and sustained wildlife conservation,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “This is crucial legislation that will give state fish and game agencies more flexibility to use Pittman-Robertson excise taxes dollars raised from the sale of firearms and ammunition to enhance existing public shooting ranges and to build new ones to meet the growing need for additional places for target shooters to participate in their sport. Public shooting ranges provide hunters a place to sight in rifles and shotguns before hunting seasons, for people to take firearm safety and hunter education courses and, for recreational target shooters to enjoy their sport.”
The Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act, also known as the “Range Bill,” would allow states to use their allocation of Pittman-Robertson funds to begin construction of new ranges, or improve existing state-run public recreational shooting ranges. Currently, states are required to put up 25 percent of the cost of range construction projects to access the matching 75 percent of funds from Pittman-Robertson allocation. This legislation would allow states to access those funds with a 10 percent match and allow states five fiscal years to acquire land for range construction or expansion projects.
Pittman-Robertson funds are derived from an excise tax paid by firearms and ammunition manufacturers. Since 1937, the fund has generated more than $12.1 billion that has funded wildlife conservation and safety education programs in all 50 states. NSSF estimates more than 80 percent of Pittman-Robertson excise tax contributions are generated by sales attributed to recreational shooting. This means today’s recreational target shooter is an overwhelming contributor to conservation through excise tax support.
NSSF works diligently to remove barriers of entry to hunting and the shooting sports. A recurring concern of those considering taking up recreational shooting as a sport cite having access to a safe range as a priority concern. This legislation’s passage would make it easier for states to enable recreational target shooters to enter the sport, which in turn would generate continued contributions to Pittman-Robertson funds and the conservation programs which it supports.
This legislation has long been a top priority for NSSF as a crucial step forward in promoting, protecting and preserving hunting and the shooting sports. It has been introduced as 29 different numbered bills, since the 110th Congress. In those 14 years, the legislation was included in 15 separate bill packages, that for reasons unrelated to the “Range Bill” failed to reach Congressional consensus.
NSSF is especially grateful to Reps. Kind, Bishop and Hunter, as well as U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), John Boozman, (R-Ark.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Angus King (I-Maine), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-Utah) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska). All are original co-sponsors.