HR 8167 Wrong for Sportsmen, Conservation, Second Amendment
July 11, 2022
H.R. 8167, the so-called Return Our Constitutional Rights Act of 2022, will eliminate the 85-year-old program that helped save wild sheep and other wildlife from extinction and continues expanding their populations today. The bill disguises this senseless result by claiming to defend Second Amendment rights.
"Sportsmen – the millions of men and women who hunt and target shoot – are the best promoters of our Second Amendment rights," said Gray N. Thornton, President and CEO of the Wild Sheep Foundation. "This is an unbelievably confused bill. It would destroy the nation's most powerful wildlife conservation funding program in the name of the Second Amendment, contrary to the wishes of the Second Amendment's strongest supporters. Our ethical exercise of these rights is inseparable from the Wildlife and Sportfishing Restoration Program this bill would eliminate."
The program – also known as the Pittman-Robertson Act after its original sponsors in 1937 – redirects a user supported federal excise tax on sporting arms, ammunition, and archery equipment back to state wildlife managers. This is the nation's most successful wildlife conservation funding program that is now the envy of the world.
Pittman-Robertson has generated over $15 billion to conserve wildlife, improve recreational shooting and hunting access, fund hunting education programs, and other programs vital to state wildlife conservation efforts. In 2021 over $1.5 billion was raised and distributed for on-the-ground funding for state wildlife agencies to build public target shooting ranges, purchase wildlife management areas to increase public hunting opportunities, conserve game species, and recruit America's next generation of hunter-conservationists.
"Not now, not ever," Thornton continued. "Without the funding, advocacy, and observation-based input from sportsmen, wild places and wild things would not exist in the health and abundance they do today that all citizens enjoy. This bill has recommitted us to explaining and reminding elected officials of this fact and what makes wildlife and habitat conservation work."
The Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF), based in Bozeman, Mont., was founded in 1977 by wild sheep conservationists and enthusiasts. With a membership of more than 10,500 worldwide, WSF is the premier advocate for wild sheep and other mountain wildlife and their habitats. WSF has raised and expended more than $140 million on wild sheep habitat and population enhancements, education, and conservation advocacy programs in North America, Europe, and Asia to “Put and Keep Wild Sheep On the Mountain”®. These and other efforts have increased bighorn sheep populations in North America from historic lows in the 1950-60s of 25,000 to more than 85,000 today. www.wildsheepfoundation.org.