Today, Mark Udall sent a letter with Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) to the Committee on Environment & Public Works's Chairwoman Barbara Boxer and Ranking Member James Inhofe, urging them to hold a hearing on his bill to develop shooting ranges open to the public. The Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act (S.1249), which has strong support from hunter and conservation organizations, would give states the flexibility to spend their already-allotted Pittman-Robertson funds to create or improve public shooting ranges. Holding a hearing on the bill is a step toward having it pass committee and ready to be taken up by the full Senate for a vote. Udall is also organizing Coloradans to support the effort to enhance opportunities for safe recreational shooting in our state; the petition is available HERE.
"Hunting and recreational shooting are an important part of America's heritage. By improving the shooting experience, we can bring more Americans into the sport, thereby increasing the revenue generated for wildlife restoration," Udall and Risch wrote in the letter. "And by giving states greater flexibility over federal funds they already have, we can do so with no increase in spending and better manage designated places to safely use firearms."
Under current law--the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act--an excise tax is collected on sporting equipment and ammunition, which states can use for activities such as wildlife restoration and hunter education programs. However, it has limited effectiveness in establishing and maintaining shooting ranges, which are declining in number. Udall's bill would amend the law to give states greater flexibility to use existing funds and would help give hunters and marksmen enough accessible ranges to safely practice recreational shooting.
Udall has previously said about the bill: "It would be a triple win for sporting and conservation communities: states can create higher quality and safer shooting ranges, more Coloradans can take up the sport, and it would generate more money for future conservation and hunter education efforts."
The bipartisan bill has several co-sponsors, including Risch and Colorado's Senator Michael Bennet. Bipartisan companion legislation has also been introduced in the House of Representatives. Its supporters include the American Wildlife Conservation Partners, a coalition of over 25 of the nation's premier conservation and sportsmen non-governmental organizations, including the National Rifle Association, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and Ducks Unlimited. Last year, both the Colorado Springs Gazette and Boulder Daily Camera wrote favorable editorials about how the bill would help Colorado's sportsmen and the booming sporting sector of Colorado's economy.
The text of the letter follows:
Dear Chairwoman Boxer and Ranking Member Inhofe:
We are writing with regard to the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act (S.1249), which is currently awaiting consideration in your committee. We respectfully request that the committee hold a hearing on this legislation at your earliest convenience.
For a variety of reasons, the number of places where Americans can safely engage in recreational shooting and target practice has steadily dwindled. In an effort to promote safe and established areas for such activities, we have introduced the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act. This legislation would allow states the flexibility to spend their already allotted Pittman-Robertson funds on the creation or improvement of public shooting ranges, giving Americans more opportunities to shoot safely and responsibly.
Hunting and recreational shooting are an important part of America's heritage. By improving the shooting experience, we can bring more Americans into the sport, thereby increasing the revenue generated for wildlife restoration. And by giving states greater flexibility over federal funds they already have, we can do so with no increase in spending and better manage designated places to safely use firearms.
We have attached a letter of support for S.1249 from the American Wildlife Conservation Partners, which is a consortium of 42 wildlife conservation organizations that works to safeguard our nation's wildlife resources and the interests of America's sportsmen and women.
We thank you for your consideration of our request.