Continued Surge in Gun, Ammo Sales Fuels Conservation Funding

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posted on March 18, 2016
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Thanks in great part to the taxes generated by the continued surge in firearms and ammunition sales, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced last week that more than $1.1 billion in revenues would be allocated to states for a variety of purposes, including conservation, shooting range development, and hunting and shooter safety programs. 

The amount is about the same as was 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. Revenues come from excise taxes generated by the sale of sporting firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing equipment, electric boat motors, and from taxes on the purchase of motorboat fuel. In 2014, $760 million was apportioned by the FWS from collected taxes, more than twice the $371 million allocated in 2012. 

The 2016 funding allocation was formally announced last week by Bob Curry, Deputy Assistant Director of the Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) program, at the Bassmaster Classic, now in its 46th year and a major gathering for the fishing industry. 

Specifically, excise taxes on firearms and ammo sales collected under the 1937 Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act are paid quarterly by firearms and ammunition manufacturers, and under law may only be used for the benefit of public recreation, education and conservation. The 10-percent tax paid on sales of pistols and revolvers and 11 percent paid on long guns and ammunition is generally considered the most accurate barometer of the sector’s performance. 

“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 (NSSF), the trade association representing the firearms and ammunition industry. “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.” 

A state-by-state breakdown of the funds allocated for FY 2016 by state is available at http://www.fws.gov/home/feature/2016/pdfs/PRDJ-TotalsFY2016.pdf

“State wildlife agencies play an essential role in the conservation of America’s wildlife, while also generating billions of dollars for the nation’s economy through increased hunting and fishing opportunities. It’s fitting that those very sporting activities help sustain wildlife, their habitats and the agencies that manage them,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “Our role in administering these funds reflects our long-standing partnership with the states across a broad spectrum of wildlife conservation issues.”

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