NEWTOWN, Conn. -- A coalition of 24 organizations representing millions of sportsmen and sportswomen nationally and thousands in California this week sent a letter to State Sen. Fran Pavley, chair of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, expressing its united opposition to Assembly Bill 711: An Act to Amend Section 3004.5 of the Fish and Game Code, Relating to Hunting.
Recently passed by the California Assembly, this legislation would make California the first state to ban the use of traditional lead ammunition for hunting.
"If enacted, AB711 will drastically and negatively affect thousands of Californians that participate in hunting and recreational shooting and the firearms and ammunition industries as well as the vital conservation programs they fund," said Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president and general counsel, National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).
The coalition letter to Sen. Pavley noted that, "Shooting sports participants and manufacturers are the largest financial supporters of wildlife conservation throughout the United States, having contributed over $5.4 billion to habitat conservation, recreational shooting and wildlife management through federal excise tax payments since 1991. This year alone California received more than $14 million from these Pittman-Robertson excise taxes for wildlife conservation and restoration."
Organizations in the coalition actively support wildlife conservation and the preservation and enhancement of our nation's hunting and recreational shooting choices. NSSF joined 23 other organizations including Ducks Unlimited, Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, Delta Waterfowl, Wildlife Management Institute, National Rifle Association, Safari Club International, U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance and others as signers of the letter.
The letter of opposition says that AB 711 will also:
Result in massive increases in the price of ammunition due to the exponentially higher raw materials and manufacturing costs of using alternative metals such as copper or bronze. The higher costs associated with non-traditional ammunition will not only price everyday consumers out of the market, but it will also detrimentally impact countless manufacturing facilities resulting in the estimated loss of more than 2,500 jobs and $132 million in wages.
Create a de facto ban on hunting due to impediments on the production and sale of alternative ammunition that stem from the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act (P.L. 99-408). Although the Act was intended to exempt ammunition designed for rifle use, its implementation has resulted in hunting ammunition being scrutinized as potentially being "armor piercing" under the statute. As a result, at least 19 companies that produce ammunition for hunting or other shooting sports have submitted petitions to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), requesting the agency exempt their products as "primarily intended for a sporting purpose," as required. Unfortunately, ATF has given little indication as to when, if ever, it will process these petitions. The California Department of Finance also expresses concern about this issue in its bill analysis and does not support the legislation.
This reduction in hunting opportunities would serve as a significant threat to the economic benefits that sportsmen and women generate in California. In 2011, the 394,471 California hunters alone paid nearly $153.3 million in state and local taxes and employed 20,640 people that paid more than $758 million in salaries and wages. Furthermore, hunters were responsible for over $1.1 billion in retail sales, which had a multiplier effect of nearly $2.17 billion.
This bill is largely supported by extreme anti-hunting interests that assert this legislation is necessary to address impacts to wildlife populations resulting from traditional ammunition. This assertion lacks a credible scientific foundation in the vast majority of cases; elevated lead levels are still seen in areas where traditional ammunition has been banned, indicating animals are ingesting it from other sources. We hope that the Senate will consider readily available, objective data.
The letter can be accessed at www.nssf.org/share/PDF/Letter_SenPavley_CA_AB711_6-4-13.pdf.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 8,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen's organizations and publishers. For more information, log on to www.nssf.org.