Love Animals ? Buy a Gun to help em out
Over the course of the past seven decades, wildlife conservation in the United States has done a complete 180 in saving and preserving the natural world for future generations. This, in large part, comes from every hunter and shooter in the country due to a little known federal law that sends money spent on guns and ammunition, into the coffers of state wildlife departments, making each one of us a conservationist by default.
Back in the 1930s, things were hard. You know of the recent Recession in the past decade, but back then, they had the Great Depression (read The Grapes of Wrath sometime) which was many times worse due to the poor banking and trading regulations of the day. Well the country saved itself with the Public Works Program and the Tree Army which gave us huge national parks and an expanded US National Forest program. But the thing is, you need animals to go into them to keep the biosphere working and in the 1930s, those were suffering a depression of their own. Animals were going extinct left and right. The bison all but gone, the last of billions of passenger pigeons died in 1914, bears and alligators had been eradicated from many states, and waterfowl and deer were next.
In 1937, two US lawmakers, Nevada Senator Key Pittman and Virginia Congressman Absalom Willis Robertson, joined to pass the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program to help change that. Now don't freak out, they didn't start a tax on guns and ammo, they took over an already implemented 11 percent excise tax on rifles and ammo and a 10 percent tax on handguns. This money was going to the Treasury and could be spent on anything the government wanted. Well Pittman-Robertson changed that, saying that since the dollars came from the backs of shooters, it needed to go help shooters in return.
The effects of The Pittman-Robertson
Since 1937, the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs have pumped more than $15 billion (with a "B") into states to buy land, improve shooting access, and fund hunter's education programs. This money is our money that we have paid every time we buy a gun or ammunition (as well as archery equipment in recent years). A similar tax is on fishing equipment that goes for fish habitat.
It is funneled to the USF&WS who in turn gives it to state (and territorial) conservation agencies in the form of grants that range from 75-100% funding for conservation and shooting activities. White-tailed deer, elk, turkey and antelope are some of the many species that have seen their populations grow because of Pittman-Robertson funding.
Numbers of these once-threatened species have bounded back to an all-time modern high-- and it is all because of you buying a box of shells or a new rifle. Every time you buy a handgun or a shooters bag, a kid gets money for Hunters education that can save a life.
Overall, this means that if you have ever spent a dollar on anything shooting related, you are a conservationist.
You take those pennies from each purchase, add them up across all of the shooters in the country, and it's a huge sum. In fact, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced Tuesday that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will distribute nearly $1.1 billion in Pittman-Robertson excise tax revenues paid by sportsmen and sportswomen to state and territorial fish and wildlife agencies to fund fish and wildlife conservation and recreation projects across the nation.
In many cases these programs give a 1000-2000 percent return on investment for every dollar spent on them.
"Anyone who enjoys our nation's outdoor heritage should thank hunters, anglers, recreational boaters and target shooters," said Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "Through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, these individuals have created a 75-year legacy for conservation of critical wildlife habitat and improved access to the outdoors for everyone."
To see how that breaks down for your state click here.
Moreover, see more in the infographic below from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms industry, on just how those dollars help:
Please spread this message far and wide. Share it on social media, post it to your websites - let the world know about America's original and largest contributors to conservation: hunters, shooters and the firearms industry.