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(AP Photo/Andrew Selsky, File)
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By John Casellas Connors, Texas A&M University and Christopher Rea, The Ohio State University

Gun and ammunition sales in the U.S. have skyrocketed in recent years. And although it may come as a surprise, this trend has supported conservation activities.

That’s because every firearm and bullet produced or imported into the U.S. is subject to an excise tax dedicated to wildlife conservation and restoration. In 1998, these taxes generated about US$247 million in inflation-adjusted apportionments to state fish and wildlife agencies from the federal U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which collects and manages these funds. By 2018, these revenues had more than tripled to $829 million.

These taxes on guns and ammunition sales provide a growing share of budgets for state fish and game agencies. But as scholars of environmental politics, conservation and wildlife management, we have found that the growth in conservation funding driven by exploding guns sales presents at least three critical moral and ethical issues.

First, the original argument for using gun taxes to fund conservation was that most gun users were hunters who used lands and wildlife, and should help to support those resources. But our research shows that gun use is increasingly unrelated to hunting.

Second, the recent spike in gun sales is linked to violence and social unrest. Even if most gun owners never commit a crime, this means that overall, conservation is benefiting from gun-related social strife and harm.

Finally, recent changes to the law allow the use of gun-related excise taxes to support activities with little or no connection to hunting, wildlife or outdoor recreation.

Hunting and fishing fees are an important funding source for conservation in the U.S. But as hunting declines, gun-related conservation funding increasingly comes from firearms and ammunition sold for other purposes.

A marriage of guns and conservation

At the end of the 19th century, many wild species across the U.S. were threatened by over-hunting and unregulated markets for wild game products. Companies used bison bones to make “bone china” and bird plumage to decorate hats. Many species were hunted to the brink of extinction. Some, like the passenger pigeon, were fully exterminated.

In an effort to restore game populations for sport hunters, federal and state governments established fish and wildlife agencies. But these offices were often underfunded.

The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937, commonly known as the Pittman-Robertson Act, increased conservation funding by redirecting an existing excise tax on firearms to a dedicated wildlife management fund. Over time, the law expanded to include excise taxes that manufacturers today pay on long guns, handguns, ammunition and archery equipment. To access these funds, states must use fees from hunting licenses exclusively to support fish and wildlife agencies.

Pittman-Robertson funds make up a large fraction of state fish and wildlife agency budgets. In 2018, for example, we estimate that about 25% of the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s $62 million appropriations came from excise taxes generated by Pittman-Robertson. In Massachusetts, the number was 43%.

Fewer hunters, more gun sales

The idea behind Pittman-Robertson was simple enough: Taxes on hunting supplies should support the agencies that manage wildlife. This idea persists today. Gun manufacturers and fish and game agencies regularly celebrate hunters’ financial contributions to conservation.

Since the early 2000s, however, gun and ammunition sales have begun to disconnect from hunting. Nationally, the number of hunters declined from a peak of 17 million in 1982 to 11.5 million in 2016. By comparison, in the same year, Gallup estimated that about 93 million Americans owned guns.

These numbers suggest that only about 1 in 8 gun owners hunted in 2016. This pattern echoes a 2015 analysis by Southwick Associates, a consulting firm that works closely with the firearms industry, that found that 80% of firearms sales in 2015 were for nonhunting activities like sport shooting, gun collecting and self-defense.

Other outdoor recreational activities, meanwhile, are growing. Birding, hiking and backpacking are consistently among the fastest growing outdoor recreation activities. Birding increased by 232% from 1983 to 2001. Unlike hunting and fishing, there is no federal requirement for people who engage in these activities to contribute to conservation.

Chart: The Conversation, CC BY-ND Source: US Fish & Wildlife Service – Get the data

Profiting from social violence

Although most guns sold in the U.S. will not be involved in violent crimes, Pittman-Robertson does not differentiate between firearms and ammunition used for hunting and sport shooting versus those that are used to harm people. The guns and bullets involved in over 45,000 gun-related deaths in 2020 generated excise taxes used to fund wildlife conservation. This means that protecting public lands and wildlife is irrevocably linked to social violence. It is also why some commentators worry that gun regulations could hurt conservation efforts.

Data also shows that firearms sales are motivated by fears of violence and social unrest. Gun sales have increased following mass shootings and racial justice protests and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Anecdotal evidence suggests that over the past two years, some African Americans and Asian Americans purchased their first guns out of fears of rising anti-Black and anti-Asian violence.

A flock of birds fly over sandhill cranes in a pond near Newark, Neb., Thursday, March 15, 2018. Huge numbers of sandhill cranes stop in the Platte River basin for rest and food before resuming their migration north. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Wildlife conservation is benefiting from the fear, racism and sustained social conflict that drive gun sales. This raises a moral question: Is this the right way to fund conservation?

Promoting non-hunting gun use

As gun sales grow, the firearms industry has pushed to use Pittman-Robertson funds to support non-hunting gun uses. Gun manufacturers and sportsmen groups endorsed a set of reforms to Pittman-Robertson that became law in 2020. These changes allow state and federal agencies to use Pittman-Robertson funds to promote recreational shooting and purchase land for shooting ranges.

Some organizations are concerned that these changes will redirect funding from wildlife restoration to target practice and marksmanship. But hunting and shooting organizations argue that the new rules will generate more money for conservation activities. As a former president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies stated in a recent interview: “The goal is to improve and build more shooting ranges, this is where the money comes from.”

New sources for conservation funding

Other groups have proposed ways to make wildlife conservation less dependent on guns.

One idea from some backcountry hunters and Forest Service employees is to create a “backpack tax” on equipment used for outdoor activities like hiking and birding. The outdoor industry has opposed these proposals, arguing that it is impossible to discern the actual use of outdoor products, and that such taxes may create more barriers for low-income individuals to participate in outdoor activities.

Another proposal – this one embraced by the outdoor industry – asserts that Congress should leverage existing funds from other sources to support conservation. Moving away from funds generated by hunters could also give state agencies greater freedom to undertake projects for species other than popular game like deer and elk, which often are the focus of state conservation policies.

This idea has bipartisan support and is moving through Congress as part of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. That bill would direct $1.3 billion from the Treasury to the Pittman-Robertson Account, with a dedicated portion for endangered species recovery.

So long as hunting is part of the U.S. model of wildlife management, firearms will be intertwined with conservation. As we see it, though, proposals to change funding sources could help to address the moral concerns that grow out of this relationship, and could create opportunities for more effective conservation.

The Conversation

John Casellas Connors, Assistant Professor of Geography, Texas A&M University and Christopher Rea, Assistant Professor of Public Affairs, The Ohio State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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  1. The chances that the Left will give up “income” from taxes are just about as good as my chances of being the next Hemsworth brother. The most that will come from this bit of mopey moral grandstanding is that the folks writing the studies will feel even more (unearned) guilt about being melanin-challenged and privileged.

    • They won’t give it up. They’ll just shift it. Their fossil fuel free future utopia is already full of per-mile taxes, electric delivery taxes, taxes on wearable parts like tires and brake pads and anything else they can think of. Same will happen here with guns and ammo.

      The end result is the consumer will pay ever more.

      • The difference between a tax on tires and a tax on ammo is that tires are not directly tied to a civil right.

        We stand to make a major advancement in our 2A rights in a few weeks (with luck). Since most ammunition is expended on gun ranges, I would have no problems whatsoever with re-directing Pittman-Robertson funds to be used to build and operate gun ranges in NY City and other places where there aren’t many now…

      • Don’t forget the tax that we all have to already pay so that wealthy people can get a discount on their Teslas and wealthy business owners can get those sweet, sweet subsidies for their solar and wind farms, etc. I’m for equality. End all subsidies. Make it illegal for any government entity to show favoritism.

        If you enjoy puking in your mouth, follow your state or county commission sometime to see what they’re up to, and how they spend your money by giving big businesses the best deal. Who pays for that again? Small businesses do. The only way we achieve a level playing field is for all subsidies to end.

        • arguing that it is impossible to discern the actual use of outdoor products, and that such taxes may create more barriers for low-income individuals to participate in outdoor activities

          Funnyyou should raise these points. They have been raised for dcades by we who mut currentlypay these tases. No one askes HOW we want that spent or on what “classes” of projects. I hve zero say in HOW the taxes extracted from me will be used. Shut up and pay, WE now what’s good foryou. A .22 WRF handgun is NOT lwful to use for any hunting purposes, yet the tax applies. SO with the ammunition tha thandgun will chew p and swallow.
          As to the taxes suggested hurting minimal income people, that is no change whatsoever. They LREADY hurt us when we purchase any gins or ammunition or scops, slings, etc. What would be different and “unjust” about the same taxes collected now start to go, at least in part, to other outdoor areas and activities? Tionico

        • 1st, thanks on the video suggestion, I’m going bolt action on my build, you did offer some very good points.

          Anyways – Boston is gonna need some downtown gun ranges soon, why not use some of the Pittman cash to finance them?

        • I thought Boston, Chicago, Nooo Yawk, Baltimore, Smog Angeles and FlimFlamFrisco are already outdoor gun ranges…. so what’s the change?

      • I’ve actually had a conservation officer tell me I could get a ticket for bird watching without a hunting license. Evidently I was “hunting” the birds .

  2. I’m a gun owner who doesn’t hunt. I have nothing against hunting and despise the anti-hunting zealots who interfere with hunts. However, hunting just isn’t one of my interests. The one exception would be shooting feral hogs but I think of that as pest extermination rather than hunting.

    It doesn’t bother me to pay a tax that funds wildlife management. We now live in semirural part of Arizona. I enjoy having deer and elk wander through my neighborhood at night. A “backpack tax”, so that other users of the outdoors contribute to wildlife management, is a good idea. So is expanding use of the current tax monies to fund ranges and firearms education.

    Something to beware of is anti-gunners who see Pittman-Robertson funds as a pot of money to be diverted to their own pet boondoggles.

    • The idea of putting a tax on somebody else as a user fee tends to disguise the real results. A backpack tax on a backpack? Ok, every parent who buys one for their childs school books gets nicked with that fee – hundreds of thousands of packs a year. Why are schoolchildren targeted for what should be an outdoor adventurer’s fee?

      And then how do we apply it fairly? The whole point was that the existing tax ISN’T, and our track record of government doing things right is conflated with success when we know it is exactly the opposite. Do we tax a camper spoon set? A travel towel? Just exactly what criteria make it “camping” or “back pack” to deserve an increase in price? As soon as you do that, you will see folks finding the hacks and wrinkles in the wall. I would expect a whole bunch of lightweight gear for the handicapped to appear for use while shopping – nope, it’s not camping or backpacking, it’s strolling the mall and using your own spoon. We do it with titanium chopsticks – those aren’t “camping” are they?

      The result would be the destruction of the camping gear industry as it relabels itself as other alternative parallel uses. All to avoid an intrusive and oppressive tax. Who gets to decide goes to it – is it anything outdoor, or is jogging/marathon running excluded? Why not dayhiking on city park trails? Nobody camps on a 8 hour trip using an old rail bed.

      Perhaps we need point of use gateways with paid ticket sellers . . . not happening, it’s already a failing system with Park Rangers. They can’t be everywhere, the weed farms on national lands are one example.

      Nope, we need to abolish the “wildlife” tax and find a more equitable way to get those funds. Instead of putting on the back of gun buyers alone – or someone who buys a pair of binoculars to watch a football game at the stadium. Not everybody is a bird watcher when you are 100 miles out to sea and wondering who’s trying to catch up to you off the coast of Florida in a known drug transiting corridor.

      Adding a “backpack” tax makes as much sense as adding a tax on birth control to finance sex education. Don’t forget we are still paying for the Spanish American war tax on our land line phone bills – the few of us left with one. How old is that war now? I hope the veterans who are getting cared for appreciate it.

      It’s always ok to propose somebody else needs to pay a tax until we realize later on we are now included as “somebody else.” Ask me how I know – I was in my twenties when some bureaucrat jacked with the dates and finally included me in with the baby boomers. I never was and despise those spoiled brats. Now I are one and castigated for all the older generations mistakes.

  3. Not that I thought A Clockwork Orange was culture. The first time I saw it I thought it was the most bizzare thing I’d ever seen. Then I saw an Andy Warhol. The most bizzare thing about that were the people fawning over it. I thought, “I could have seen this on the soup aisle for free.”

    • To Flag waver

      Admitting you did not comprehend anything when watching Clockwork Orange was admitting you are certainly not a product of higher education.

      There were a lot truths about societal problems (including drug addiction) in the movie but the one that was most thought provoking was the expose on what type of people are drawn to law enforcement. In the movie the former High School thugs and criminals all became cops. True not only in Britain but very true in the U.S.

      • How do we take you seriously herr dacian the nazi when you lie all the time? Remember your claim that a 6 yo was executed in Texas for stealing bread?

        As for higher education it certainly does not show in your comments. You could prove your point by stating where you received your degrees and what they were in.

        • Dad gum it jwm, it was Texas England, back in 1553 or something, in England,where 12 year olds were slaves, dacian just got his sht fcked up on Texas the state and Texas the town.

      • No, you ALLEGEDLY educated nitwit, if Gadsden had a “higher education” (like you ALLEGEDLY are), he would have written 10,000 incomprehensible words, said absolutely nothing, hit the bong, and patted himself on the back about how “educated” he was.

        Instead, he posted a more-or-less comprehensible comment in the wrong place. SHAME on you, Gadsden!!

        As for you, you self-absorbed buttnugget, go join the circle jerk. We’re all tired of your ranting nonsense. Don’t go away mad, just go away. Far, FAR away. And don’t be in a hurry to come back.

        • To be fair, Dacian’s post had fewer words and was more comprehensible than your anger fueled word salad. Also, you could use a bong hit or two. Now go back to providing counsel to the imaginary clients at your pretend law firm.

        • Ooh, my only-occasionally-reliable, nameless, brainless, d***less troll!!!

          How’s it going, troll child??? Learn any new words, lately?? Did dacian the stupid teach you the “choke up” grip for your daily circle jerk? Did you run out of salt??

          Just ONCE, it would be interesting to have you address a comment on the actual SUBSTANCE of the comment . . . but, nah, nameless, brainless, d***less troll is all about drive-by attempts (which always fail) at playground insults.

          Sucks to be you, dunnit, nameless, brainless, d***less troll?? Get a job and move out of mommie’s basement, troll.

      • Quote———-Admitting you did not comprehend anything when watching Clockwork Orange was admitting you are certainly not a product of higher education.———-Quote

        fake dacian. ^ Juvenile garbage.

      • Quote———-In the movie the former High School thugs and criminals all became cops. True not only in Britain but very true in the U.S.———-Quote

        It’s a movie. Movies are not reality. More juvenile nonsense. Fake dacian.

      • dacian, the Dunderhead, That you “think” understanding “Clockwork Orange” makes you some kind of Einstein is mind boggling. There is LITTLE if any “truth” in that movie. First, drug addiction is a PERSONAL matter. You Lefties seem to think you can cure all the ills of society including drug addiction with your socialist programs. IN fact not one of society’s problems have been solved by your Leftist programs, In fact the problems have expanded exponentially. But one has to wonder if that is not your goal to begin with. Isn’t it all about your attempts to control society and its outlook on the world?

        Most police in this country are good hard working people. Unlike you Leftists who tend to be slugs and sponges.

  4. This is another attempt to smear all legal gunners as morally deficient and collectively responsible for criminal’s illegal use of firearms.

    F off. I’m not going to be preached at on matters of morality by a bunch of woketards who themselves epitomize everything debase, perverted and immoral in society.

  5. Compromise is the key here. There is way too much money coming from the tax on guns and ammo to be denied to wildlife conservation but the priority should be on spending money to prevent the extinction of threatened species, not using the bulk of the money to increase herds of big game for the hunters guns.

      • So, possum, how’s that lobbying campaign for a ‘possum benefit tax’ goin’????? possums are a much-maligned species, as you know.

        • Not so good, I sent six delegates to the Capitol, two didn’t make it out of city limits, one got hung up in the trash dumpster and hauled off, two got splattered on highway 59 and another said fck it wandered off in the timber and went greyman

        • Dammit, possum, WARN me when you’re gonna do that s***!!! I snorted half my morning orange juice through my nose! (Hurt like hell, too!).

  6. You lost me at ‘racial justice protests’. A bunch of white guys dressed like the SS and looting and burning minority owned businesses does not qualify as ‘racial justice protest’ IMHO.

    As far as I could tell the only racists were the ones ‘protesting’.

    • Well what do you expect from assistant professors of Geography and public affairs? It’s funny that they think taking money away from conservation will help. Moral virtue signaling at its best.

      • Don’t forget the famous (and SOOO important) “Gender Studies” and “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” majors!!!!!! Forget the supply chain mess, our broken borders, a war in Ukraine that Senile Joe basically INVITED Vlad to start, and rampant inflation, we have a CRITICAL shortage of Gender Studies majors!!!

        And we need to forgive their multi-hundred thousand dollar student loans, because . . . just because.

  7. If you smoke a criminal take him to a taxidermist and have him stuffed. That should give those pasty mouth pompous gun hating busy bodies who have waaaay too much free time on their hands something to chew on.

    • ” Oh that’s a nice trophy, where did you get it”
      On the subway, baited it in with a mini skirt and french perfume. He looked to be about 350 on the hoof, only dressed out to 110 ,,,yup another Texas one, scared the crap out of him when I pulled the trigger.

  8. This comes up from time to time. I am a strong believer in consumer taxes only. You don’t use it, you don’t pay taxes on it. So. I propose a cut out. You don’t want to pay Pittman-Robertson because you don’t hunt or fish. Fine. You forfeit all hunting and fishing provides within the boundaries of the United States America. Also, because Pittman-Robertson also dumps funds into state and national parks you guys won’t mind paying a premium for entry and services. The government will just need to add a tag to your I.D. advising you are a Pittman-Robertson objector. That way everyone pays their fair share. Just like in socialism.

  9. I kinda get a buzz out of knowing everytime I buy a box of bullets it helps conservation.
    Besides ,We pay taxes on everything except air and sunlight and I’m pretty sure the Powers That Be are working on away around that.
    Speaking of air, I had a dream awhile back, they found a frozen cave man and successfully thawed him out, he came to, took a few gulps of our air and coughed himself to death. They tried resurrecting him but no use, he’d come out of it, then breath then die again.

    • Covid related, no doubt. Ask Faucci, Biden and any other number of sniviling little shits that make me want to wretch.

  10. Too much to hope that they’d direct more of these funds toward gun ranges and shooter’s education, huh?

  11. Feeling good about oneself is the height of moral achievement. Unfortunately, like all addictions, it must constantly be reinforced with new and greater consumption of the morality drug.

    “For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, broud…unthankful…”
    – Anon

  12. Yep the lefties that wrote this article really want to get their hands on that gun and ammo tax money to fund their latest boondoggle. You watch they will propose the “Teach disadvantaged people to fish” bill and to qualify for it you only have to be an illegal alien with at least three kids by no more than four different women (or men) and you get extra money if the tax payers paid for your gender reassignment.

    I am not a hunter but I don’t want anyone messing with the Pittman-Robertson money. Is this something else I have to write my id10t Senator and my near useless Congressman about?

  13. So replace the tax on guns and ammo with a tax on little Johnny’s book bag. That works for me.

  14. Translation, “That’s a lot of money, how can we steal it from the Wild Life Conservation crowd and redirect it to our social justice woke agenda. We need it more and we are a better cause, as we will use that money to take away guns and demonize gun owners. Besides we live in cities and only see ducks at the park and we asked them if they needed the money and the ducks said, No.”

  15. I have some “Moral and Ethical Concerns” with the bias and slant and lack of proper context with this.

    Taxes are paid on lots of things which are used improperly, and sometimes properly, that cause far greater harm yet no one says anything about the taxes from those being used for wildlife conservation or many other things.

    For example, tobacco products literally kill about 400,000 annually. The tax dollars collected on tobacco product sales are used for many things including wildlife conservation, yet the product is sold with the full knowledge of the law, medical science, and the tobacco companies that when used as intended it causes death or injury (at some level) 100% of the time.

    Where is all their “Moral and Ethical Concerns” when over 2 million are injured (not killed) every year in vehicle accidents and about 1.2 million of those will die later as a result of or complications from those injuries?

    Where is all their “Moral and Ethical Concerns” when about 100,000 in the last 12 months have committed suicide by drug overdose and with most being by use of prescription drugs? Did they have “Moral and Ethical Concerns” when the tax dollars from the sale of those prescription drugs flowed into the federal and state coffers with some to be used for wildlife conservation?

    Yet, we purchase firearms and abide an increased cost with excise tax and onerous tyrannical draconian regulation and be law abiding people overall and maintain firearms for self.home defense and sporting purposes – and because some people do bad things sometimes with a firearm and not all gun owners run out to go hunting that gives these fools “Moral and Ethical Concerns”?

  16. It’s interesting that people who claim the high ground on “moral and ethical” sources of benefits never seem to understand that life today was built on many “moral and ethical” failures in the past. They always seem to focus only on specific “moral and ethical” failures that they individually don’t like, but are otherwise unconcerned.

  17. Quote: “Second, the recent spike in gun sales is linked to violence and social unrest.”

    The way this is phrased they are trying to convince people these guns will be used for violence and cause social unrest. Typical leftist garbage.

    The way these sales may be related to “violence and social unrest” is people are buying because of the “unrest” and a lot of that is because the leftist politicians are encouraging violence and defunding the police. People see a problem, they are in danger because of unrest aided and abetted by politicians and lack of police response so they want a way to protect themselves.

    Just think, these two left wing propagandists are paid by taxpayers.

  18. The progressive left has a long history of using “moral and ethical” concerns to cover for their real agenda, control, and the redistribution of wealth. A hundred years ago, they supported prohibition because excise taxes on alcohol made it hard to get an income tax. The structure of our current disastrous tax and spend financing can be traced to this power grab. Now they want to gain more complete control over conservation and hunting using a similar moral panic. In the words of Thoreau, “If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life.”

  19. “…..conservation is benefiting from gun-related social strife and harm.”

    Democrats & fascists like dacian benefit hugely from social strife and harm, too. What’s your point?

  20. I’m a native Texan. Why am I not surprised that someone from Texas A&M was involved in this?

    • “I’m a native Texan. Why am I not surprised that someone from Texas A&M was involved in this?”


      Aggie jokes are born in truth.

    • It’s disgusting that A&M would even hire this guy. Aggies have a proud tradition, this professor is going to help ruin it.

  21. Yes, gun sales have increased wildly in the past four or so years, and a goodly portion of this increase is, indeed, linked to “increased violence”. But the way this clown phrases it, he implies that the large volume of guns being purchased will be used in perpetrating the increased violence. The truth of the matter is, the increase in gun ownsrshio is a REACTION to the new increases of vioence and lawlessness rampant across this land.

    Face it, the guns used in such villence are NOT used by the original purchaser in the perpetration of that violence. Nope. They are stolen from the ones who did bu them legitimatel and PAID THE STINKING tAXES on them, and now cannot reap the benefits of that tax money by their chosen use of their now-stolen arms.
    HOW is it that these goody two shoes louts take any statistic and twist it into a psychedelic pretzel?

    • “Face it, the guns used in such villence are NOT used by the original purchaser in the perpetration of that violence. Nope. They are stolen from the ones who did bu them legitimatel…”

      This is where we walk into a haymaker by the anti-gun mob. If law-abiding gun owners didn’t have guns, the guns couldn’t be stolen and used in crime. Thus, it is common sense that all guns should be removed from legal buyers, so as to dry-up the inventory of guns available. Eventually, guns of criminals will break down and not be repaired. At some point, there will be no guns to steal, or buy/sell on the street.

      • That’s an easy one to flip in terms of their “criminal justice reform”. It’s also one that’s easy to flip in terms of “victim blaming”.

        And the reality is that they don’t actually want to stop any of the problems, at least not yet. Their pattern of behavior strongly suggests that their plan is to increase, not decrease, social instability because it gives them a doorway to their actual goal.

        • “And the reality is that they don’t actually want to stop any of the problems, at least not yet. Their pattern of behavior strongly suggests that their plan is to increase, not decrease, social instability because it gives them a doorway to their actual goal.”

          Precisely. Chaos always causes the public to look to government to “fix” things. Like all good sales people, “Create a need, then fill it.”

  22. Most hunters I know are quietly proud that their taxes really do contribute to wildlife preservation. While I think cumulative taxes on guns and ammunition are absurd, I actually like the portion that goes to that.

    Why would anyone propose to change what works in favor of just ONE MORE “Progressive” wet dream??

    “Alex, I’ll take ‘How to shoot yourself in the foot’, for $800!” If they start pissing away that money on midnight basketball in Compton, they can kiss my @$$.

  23. When did a politician or bureaucrat ever have a moral or ethical problem in collecting or spending tax money? Or is it that the idiots in the article only have a moral problem with the tax monies being spent on what the law says it should. Rather than their pet projects and social engineering/social justice programs.

  24. Um, OK…. that was one of the dumbest things I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. Reading the two authors’ CVs makes clear why (1/10, don’t recommend).

    Rather than dissect the whole thing and extract all the gems of retardation I’ll focus on a couple points.

    “Wildlife conservation is benefiting from the fear, racism and sustained social conflict that drive gun sales. This raises a moral question: Is this the right way to fund conservation?”

    So, it’s the authors’ position that nothing good should come from “fear, racism and sustained social conflict”? I mean, those things are not just going to disappear if you change the funding mechanisms for conservation so arguably the conservation is the silver lining to a dark storm cloud.

    Further, the point of taxing ammo is that it’s a consumable. How often do people swap backpacks for hiking? I can’t think of a quality backpack that won’t last at least 10 years even though pretty damned hard use. Generally, they’re in the $400-$1000 range, which is what a lot of people go through in ammo every few months. So, this idea is just stupid. You’re moving from a revenue stream that while it might be variable from quarter to quarter or YoY isn’t being placed on a durable good, to one that is being placed on a durable good. If you make the tax high enough that it “covers the loss” then all you’ll do is price out part of the market and encourage everyone else to buy ultra-high end and replace it once or twice a lifetime.

    Further still, the concept of using taxes on guns and ammo to fund conservation is, at root, a “skin in the game” idea. Backpacking taxes are not. Backpacking taxes would make *more* sense fiscally speaking if they were on consumables like Mountain House dried food or IsoPro stoves and tanks. But then what about the “disconnect” between hiking and people buying pallets of Mountain House survival food from CostCo?

    Further still, isn’t such “hoarding” in response to the threat of “social unrest… sales have increased… during the COVID-19 pandemic” blah, blah, blah.

    And none of this concept tells you where it stops. Will you charge your tax on all backpacks regardless of usage? Certain types? Certain brands? Does it extend to other things like ice axes and climbing rope? Tents? Headlamps? Sleeping bags and pads?

    And in the same vein as the article, why should people buying Black Diamond gloves designed primarily for alpine rope handling pay a higher tax on them if they don’t ever handle rope in an alpine environment? Why should a family having sleepovers pay more for sleeping bags?

    This is like charging an alcohol tax specifically to fix guardrails damaged by drunks. It makes no sense and spreads the cost over everyone thereby reducing the cost to the people damaging something.

    Generally speaking, I’d say a lot of this needs a ground-up rework because it’s blatantly obvious that government isn’t competent to do much of it. The problem is that the current crop of septa and octogenarians isn’t competent to do much of anything at all.

    Clearly the answer is obvious but not something anyone wants to hear, usage fees combined with extremely heavy fines (paying the full cost for damages) for misuse along with a complete funding reform and reexamination of all the ongoing and proposed projects to boot.

    But that doesn’t fund the greenies’ projects and places an enormous onus on hunters, many of whom, in parts of this country are hunting because it’s what they can afford in terms of filling a freezer.

    I’d bet a fair bit that both authors are big on investing in ESG, which is to say, PhD or not, they’re not very bright.

  25. “violence and social unrest” is about trying to transform the US into something it isn’t. This is not about guns. That’s just a convenient excuse.

    • It’s Leftist/fascist dogma, Prndll – “Never let a crisis go to waste.” And if there is no crisis, invent one. For Leftist/fascists, it’s ALWAYS about advancing the narrative, never about reality.

  26. Not much substance for a research topic, a slanted and skewed article with anti-firearm undertones. No data on what the tax for ammunition and firearms was when Pittman-Robertson Act started and is today for comparison to generate data for analysis by state and county over time. 2 data estimates is not good science. What are they teaching college students these days? Oh, these 2 that wrote the article are not college students? The data never lies, but there are always ways to skew the data to your thinking of the correct outcome, many books have been written on this practice of skewing data. Illinois doesn’t do much with these funds for ranges on public lands, since Illinois does not have public ranges on lands or has plans to create ranges either. Just conservation money looking for a good anti-2nd Amendment group and anti-firearms home near you is the bottom line. The authors never talk about what really creates the crime ridden cities or want to take the time to do it as it is always. The data will set you free and that scares the anti-2nd Amendment and anti-firearms groups and individuals.

  27. Neither myself nor any of the dozens of people I routinely shoot with give two shits about hunting.

    • busybeef,

      I must have skimmed over the part of the 2A that talked about what we were “allowed” to do with the “arms” we were specifically allowed to “keep and bear”. I have hunted, but I don’t regularly. I don’t do “Cowboy Action Shooting”. I used to do long-range and “precision” shooting, but even with a good scope, the old eyes aren’t up to it, anymore. I don’t do “fast draw”.

      Does it bother me, at ANY level, that other people do pursue and enjoy these pastimes? Not a bit. But they have EVERY bit as much right to pursue their interests as I do to pursue mine. You want an eight thousand dollar custom rifle to shoot “precision” matches??? Knock yourself out. I hope you score well enough to justify the expense. Other than that? None of my f***ing business. Just like it’s none of dacian the stupid’s business that I own three ARs (one by my bed for home defense) – unless that jackwagon feels the need to visit me in the wee hours of the morning, in which case it will be his business for about 10 seconds.

  28. Leave the Pitman-Robertson funds ALONE. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If the snowflakes that want to take away ALL hunting in favor of saving “endangered” species, then let them make their own fund to pay for that. There are little enough hunting opportunities, as it is, with all the restrictive regulations like the useless and unproven lead ammunition ban, which makes it more expensive for hunters. We need to keep legislators’ fingers out of the conservation pot. If they, and others, are “triggered” by the fact that some of the money comes from people buying guns, ammunition, and other related things, TOO BAD. Live with it.

  29. Dear Government . . .
    “When the ballot box is gone, there is only the cartridge box. You have made bullets expensive. But luckily for you, ropes are reusable.”
    — Douglas Perry

    • “…But luckily for you, ropes are reusable.”
      — Douglas Perry”

      Wonder if Doug considered how easy it is to apply draconian regulations to the purchase and use of rope?

  30. This so-called ‘moral and ethical’ argument about ‘re-directing’ funds from the Pittman-Robertson Act’ is total BS. Leave it alone. The tax on guns, ammo, and fishing equipment has worked just fine for the past 85 years. The money generated goes to conservation programs that benefit everyone, not just hunters and fishermen. It benefits ALL wildlife by providing needed funds to preserve wild areas and provide outdoor recreation to the public in general. Like the Social Security Fund, Pittman-Robertson has been ‘ripe fruit’ for corrupt politicians to steal in order to give kickbacks to big donor lobbyists.

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