by By Karen Mehall Phillips - Friday, July 29, 2022
With the U.S. House of Representatives considering passage of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2022 (H.R. 1808), the NRA-ILA | Farcical “Assault Weapons” Ban Mark-up Showed Contempt for Facts, Law, and Dignity and more than 20 other members of the coalition American Wildlife Conservation Partners (AWCP) representing millions of hunters and shooters sent a letter to House leaders today in strong opposition. If passed by the House—which now may vote on the legislation this evening—and then the Senate, the unconstitutional legislation would enact a sweeping ban on many modern sporting rifles and magazines in addition to common shotguns used by waterfowl and upland bird hunters and clay target shooters, including the Browning A5, Benelli Super Black Eagle III, Beretta A300 Ultima, Franchi Affinity 3 and Mossberg 940.
Addressed to House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the letter highlights how banning firearms used almost entirely for hunting and sporting purposes and magazines would fail to reduce violent crime while having a devastating impact on hunting and wildlife conservation funding in the United States.
“Like all Americans, we abhor the criminal misuse of firearms,” the letter states. “However, recent tragedies that have shocked and saddened all of us were not caused by the characteristics of firearms, ammunition or magazines. Rather, they were caused by the horrific acts of mentally impaired perpetrators. We also understand that the recent tragedies have resulted in a national search for answers and outcomes to address violent crime. While we share this goal, it is vital that any policy measures pursued to achieve this end are actually effective and do not ignore the underlying causes of violent crime.”
The letter calls out the ongoing misuse of the term so-called “assault weapons,” which, as those who educate themselves on the issue know, are not automatic weapons, firing one shot per trigger pull. “The only differentiating factors between guns that would be banned under H.R. 1808 and those that would not are purely cosmetic,” the letter explains. In addition, it points out a comprehensive study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control gauging the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of a full range of gun control measures, including the 1994 “assault weapons” ban. The conclusion: The use of so-called “assault weapons” in violent crime reduced measurably after the 1994 ban expired in 2004.
Signatories also share how arbitrary bans on the manufacture and sale of “high capacity” magazines are similarly ineffective, sharing a study conducted for the National Institute of Justice. Not only do “relatively few attacks involve more than ten shots fired,” but studies on the number of shots fired “show that assailants fire less than four shots on average.”
In urging a solution that doesn’t harm wildlife conservation or the economy and upholds our hunting and shooting heritage, the letter cites the 1937 Pittman-Robertson (P-R) Act that provides for a “user pays-public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding. By directing an excise tax on the sale of firearms, ammunition and archery equipment, P-R is a primary funding source for state fish and wildlife agencies, which rely on the act’s funding assurances to conduct wildlife conservation, hunter and recreational shooter recruitment, public shooting range construction and other activities. As this NRA website reported earlier this year, the letter points to a recent announcement by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearm industry trade association, touting that the revenue generated and distributed by this excise tax has eclipsed $15 billion over the lifetime of the program. In 2021 alone, the firearm and ammunition industry contributed more than $1.1 billion for wildlife conservation.
In addressing how the bulk of P-R funding is generated by recreational shooters, the letter points to another key fact: “Not only are modern sporting rifles the most popular firearm platforms for recreational shooting but they are also, increasingly, the firearm of choice for hunters and law-abiding gun owners who wish to exercise their right to defend themselves, their families and others.” In fact, it states that nearly 25 million of these rifles were sold over the 20-year period from 1990 to 2020. “To that end, arbitrary and ineffective bans on modern sporting rifles would be devastating to state wildlife agencies, America’s 55 million sportsmen and women, and our mission of conserving and managing wildlife and its habitat,” it concludes.
United in their shared opposition to the Assault Weapons Ban of 2022, signatories stand with hunters and shooters in respectfully urging House leaders to not let it become law. As the NRA Institute for Legislative Action noted on its website, “This blatantly unconstitutional legislation would provide no appreciable benefit to public safety, while directly infringing on the rights of law-abiding Americans. Its most predictable effect would be to put the law on the side of predatory criminals and against ordinary people peaceably trying to live their lives.”
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