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RETURN bill ‘devastating to incredible outdoor heritage’

A recent bill proposal, called the RETURN Our Constitutional Rights Act of 2022, has been introduced to essentially repeal the Pittman-Robertson Act and the Dingell-Johnson Act. In a nutshell, these two longstanding bills place taxes of 10% to 11% for the Pittman-Robertson Act and 10% for the Dingell-Johnson Act on purchases related to hunting, fishing, shooting gear and equipment.

It’s worth pointing out, these taxes were put in place at the request of the sportspersons’ community decades ago. They asked to be taxed for the benefit of all wildlife that Americans enjoy. The funds these taxes generate are then redistributed to all 50 states’ wildlife and fisheries agencies, helping fund hunter education and safety programs, wildlife conservation and restoration, and a whole lot more.

These excise taxes are overwhelmingly supported and applauded by anglers, hunters and shooting sports participants (that is to say the ones being taxed) across the nation because it does massive amounts of good for the wildlife resources we all care about. The funds also help ensure future generations will have similar opportunities and access to the hunting, fishing and educational programs that we currently have. The Pittman-Robertson Act alone generates more than 1 billion dollars annually that directly helps fund education, conservation and wildlife in all 50 states. You can see exactly how and where the dollars Colorado Parks and Wildlife receives through these funds are utilized by visiting its website and going through its budget.

Remember, these taxes only apply to those who make a purchase on things like a box of ammo or a fishing rod or a new bow with a dozen arrows. Also, these excise taxes have been around since 1937 and 1950 and were passed with bipartisan support.

So, it’s with ever-growing dismay and frustration that I see Colorado’s own Lauren Boebert providing yet another example of her incompetence as my district’s representative. She has signed on as a co-sponsor of this poorly thought-out bill to take away a very significant, longstanding and widely supported means of funding our outdoor legacy that’s the envy of the world.

Why? Because she, along with a growing list of other Republicans, somehow deem these excise taxes as an infringement on our Second Amendment. In a somewhat misleading introduction of the bill, they claim the Pittman-Robertson Act infringes on the rights of Americans to purchase firearms because the tax makes firearm purchases unattainable. Nevermind that gun sales have been at record highs for the last decade. The bill’s introduction doesn’t even mention gutting the Dingell-Johnson Act, which has nothing to do with firearms as it’s a fisheries-related tax.

As I understand it, our Congressional representatives are supposed to represent what’s best for the people in their district. I would bet a vast majority of citizens in Colorado’s Western Slope, which Boebert mostly represents, who participate in fishing and hunting are gladly willing to continue paying those excise taxes on their occasional hunting and fishing purchases when they know it goes toward keeping our hunting and fishing legacy intact.

Consider whether you’re someone who sees value in any or all of the following: managing our state wildlife areas; having shooting ranges; monitoring wildlife diseases; improving wildlife habitat; researching big game and small game populations; maintaining our fish hatcheries; managing and restoring our fish populations as well as providing grant programs for the hunting and fishing communities.

If so, then I encourage you to give Boebert a call and/or email, asking her why in the world she’s going against the longstanding wishes of past and current generations in supporting a bill that would be devastating to our state’s and our nation’s incredible and unprecedented outdoor heritage.

Adam Gall is a licensed outfitter in Colorado who lives with his family in Hotchkiss.