Gun Control And Its Impact On Wildlife Conservation

To hear your average anti-gunner speak, there’s absolutely nothing in the world that wouldn’t be improved with just a bit more gun control.

While I can and have argued with them at every point, they’re not really interested in what a pro-gun person like me has to say. They’re not going to listen to me talk about the failures of gun control to stop any of the stuff it’s supposed to stop.

However, there are also the unintended consequences of any law. These are the things the law does that aren’t part of the intended impact. For example, mandating employers to provide insurance to full-time employees results in more employees getting their hours cut. Things like that.

Gun control laws will have their own unintended consequences.

Every current Democratic presidential candidate is advocating an assault on wildlife and habitat conservation in America. It’s fair to assume they don’t know. They, like most Americans, are likely unaware that the bulk of wildlife conservation funding in this country comes from a healthy firearms industry.

Almost $1 billion each year goes to state wildlife and natural resource agencies courtesy of checks written by firearms, ammunition, and related manufacturers. It is the result of an 11 percent excise tax on firearms, ammunition, and related goods known as Pittman-Robertson, or the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937.

The act was originally proposed by the firearms industry and supported by conservation groups like the National Wildlife Federation. It was bipartisan. It allowed states to marshal resources needed to recover dwindling populations of animals like white tail deer, elk, turkeys, and others. Because much of the success benefited hunters, there is a false assumption: they “pay the bill” in generating the tax. While it was mostly true in 1937, now it’s mostly not.

Today, roughly 80 percent of this firearms and ammunition tax comes from non-hunters. How’s that? We all hear left of center politicians and even “moderates” tying gun ownership and use to hunting. “I am a hunter” and “you don’t need that for hunting” are popular catchphrases of politicians endorsing certain gun, ammunition, and magazine bans.

They miss the target. What they don’t understand are the demographics of today’s gun ownership. Even as hunting‘s popularity is slowly declining, sport and practical shooting are way up. By sheer numbers, more people in America are shooting now than ever, although less are hunting.

In other words, it’s no longer hunters that are paying all of this, but shooters in general.

Gun control will, if nothing else, reduce the number of firearms sold in the United States. People don’t buy an AR-15 just because they just want a rifle. They buy it because they want that rifle. If they can’t buy that rifle, they probably won’t buy anything.

That means reduced revenue for wildlife conservation. After all, if people aren’t buying guns because they can’t get the one they want, it only stands to reason there will be less money for wildlife.

That was the same funding that took the whitetail deer from an animal my father never hunted as a youth because there just weren’t enough of them to bother with to one that I was able to hunt in my youth and have enough tags to fully stock my freezer if I were so fortunate. What anti-gunners seek to do is pass laws that will negatively impact those programs, whether they mean to or not.

The Law of Unintended Consequences doesn’t care either way.