Legislative Efforts Impact Hunting
The hunting segment of the firearms and ammunition industry is receiving a boost from the passage of favorable legislation in states such as North Carolina and Maine. The passage of pro-hunting legislation is helped, in part, by the overall message of the industry’s economic impact on the U.S. economy. NSSF’s recent “Firearms And Ammunition Industry Economic Impact Report: 2014” revealed the total economic impact of the industry grew by 125 percent from 2008 to 2014 — from $19.1 billion to $42.9 billion.
However, in California, the first phase of a ban on lead ammunition will negatively impact hunting in the state.
The passage of pro-hunting legislation in states like North Carolina and Maine
will help boost the hunting market, as well as create jobs.
In June, the Outdoor Heritage Act (House Bill 640) passed the North Carolina State House and Senate, which overturned a 145-year ban on Sunday hunting. It’s now awaiting Governor Pat McCrory’s (R) signature. Sponsored by State Rep. Jimmy Dixon (R-4th), the passage of this legislation will allow hunters in North Carolina to hunt with firearms on private property on Sundays, beginning Oct. 1, 2015. However, there were several amendments by both legislative bodies that have severely limited its impact.
Limitations on the Outdoor Heritage Act include Sunday hunting would only be permitted between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., and the hunting of migratory birds and deer with hounds is prohibited. Hunting within 500 yards of a place of worship or within 500 yards of a residence not owned by the landowner is also prohibited. In addition, hunting will not be lawful in counties with a population of over 700,000 (Wake and Mecklenberg).
Currently, hunters in North Carolina spend in excess of $650 million per year, supporting over 9,300 state jobs. Officials estimate expanding seven-day hunting would add an additional $311 million to the state’s economy, creating 3,600 jobs.
With Legislative Document (LD) 942, Maine will become the 37th state to legalize the use of firearm suppressors for hunting. It went into effect on June 25 without the signature of Gov. Paul LePage (R) and is set to become law by mid-October, 90 days from when the Maine Legislature adjourned. Earlier this year, Minnesota and Montana passed similar pro-suppressor hunting reform.
In early June, Gov. LePage signed LD 156 into law — which is part of the national program Families Afield — making Maine the 40th state to allow its citizens to decide when their children begin to hunt.
California’s Assembly Bill 711, signed into law in October 2013, had the first phase of its statewide ban on hunting with lead ammunition go into effect on July 1. Hunters on CDFW property and bighorn sheep hunters will now be required to use non-lead ammunition. Ultimately, this law will require the use of nonlead ammunition when taking any game with a firearm in the state. This law requires The California Fish and Game Commission to have this ban fully implemented by July 1, 2019.
In mid-September 2014, NSSF released a survey-based report on the negative effects this ban will have on hunters in California. According to the report, this ban will at least triple the price of ammunition, driving more than one-third of hunters to hunt less or stop hunting completely — which will cost the state millions of dollars in salaries and missed tax revenues.
In July, U.S. Representatives on Capitol Hill began reviewing the FY 2016 Interior Appropriations bill, which includes a section important to the industry. Most notable is a provision to make permanent protection of traditional ammunition, ammunition components and fishing tackle from EPA regulations under the Toxic Substance Control Act.
To stay up-to-date on legislation impacting the industry, visit www.nssf.org/govrel.
By Jade Molde