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A Win for Gun Safety: Public Target Range Bill Heading to Trump’s Desk

Gabriella Hoffman
by Gabriella Hoffman Read Profile arrow_right_alt

A bill promoting access to more public shooting ranges is closer to becoming law.

H.R. 1222, or The Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act, would amend the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937 to allow for the construction and expansion of public target ranges across the country. More specifically, it authorizes a state to charge up to 90 percent—instead of the current 75 percent—for the costs associated with land acquisition to expand upon or build a public target range on federal and non-federal land using Pittman-Robertson funds.

It was passed by a voice vote yesterday and will soon head to President Trump’s desk. It was co-sponsored by House Natural Resources Ranking Republican Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI).

House Natural Resources Ranking Republican Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said the following:

“H.R. 1222 provides states with greater flexibility to create safe, quality shooting facilities on public lands. It also encourages responsible hunting and shooting, while ensuring the American system of wildlife conservation funding remains strong for the future. Today’s vote is a win for hunters, a win for sportsmen and even more so, a win for wildlife conservation and restoration.”

Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), who authored H.R. 1222, said this about the bill’s passage:

“As a sportsman who taught his sons how to hunt, I know the important role our public target ranges play in giving hunters a safe location to practice, prepare and learn about hunting safety and responsible gun ownership. I am proud that my bipartisan bill, the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act has passed, and look forward to it being signed into law soon.”

The House version of the bill also notes creating more public target ranges will “promote enjoyment of shooting, recreational, and hunting activities” and “ensure safe and convenient locations for those activities.”

Moreover, the bill would direct both the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to work with state and local authorities, along with other related entities, to enact proper waste removal and other best land-use practices.

A previous version of the bill, H.R. 788, didn’t pass last congressional session.

A Senate version, S. 94, passed earlier in April. It was co-sponsored Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO). The decline of access to public shooting ranges, they note, “reduces the public’s ability to undergo firearms safety training and for hunters to “sight in” their firearms before the hunting season.”

For context: an 11 percent excise tax, or taxes paid when purchases are made on specific goods, is collected on shotguns, rifles, and ammunition under this law. The Department of Interior oversees this process and later distributes funds collected to the state wildlife agencies for habitat restoration and wildlife conservation efforts. As I noted yesterday, excise taxes collected on guns and ammunition generated well over $654 million in 2018.

The Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act was supported by groups like Congressional Sportsmen Foundation, National Shooting Sports Foundation, and National Rifle Association.

Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) President Jeff Crane heralded lawmakers for passing H.R. 1222:

“Now more than ever, America’s sportsmen and women need places to hone their skills and learn the fundamentals of hunting and the shooting sports. This bill furthers these goals by making it easier to build and operate public shooting ranges that are critical in our efforts to recruit, retain and reactive hunters and target shooters that are the backbone of the American System of Conservation Funding.”

Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel, offered similar praise for the bill’s passage:

“This has been a key piece of legislation for NSSF to grow and sustain hunting and recreational target shooting that will additionally benefit wildlife conservation. We are deeply appreciative to our leaders on both sides of the aisle and on both sides of Capitol Hill for their perseverance and foresight to benefit state wildlife agencies, recreational target shooting and sustained wildlife conservation.”

President Trump is expected to sign this bill into law—which would be a major win for shooting sports and continued support for conservation efforts in this country.

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