The Money Pitt

By John Vogel

In 2021, nearly 19,000,000 firearms were bought and paid for by Americans. Everything from used shotguns to the newest microscopic Sig Sauer wonder nine found new homes with folks who finally decided to utilize the 2nd Amendment. 

Every single person went through a background check to ensure they weren’t wanted for armed robbery or saying mean things on Twitter. Some had to wait 10 days to pick up their gun, and if they weren’t angry when they bought it, they were annoyed when they picked it up. A few actually checked their receipts and noticed a 10% excise tax on both the firearm and the ammo they bought. A handful were probably annoyed with taxes as it was, this one included. And one congressman decided he really didn’t like it.

The excise tax, known as the Pittman-Robertson Act, found its way into Americans wallets in 1937. The bill aimed to fund the deteriorating state of conservation impacted by the Dust Bowl (government funded) and the Great Depression (government enhanced) by taxing any and all sales of sporting goods. Everything from rifles, shotguns, ammo, fishing rods, accessories (not beer) gets an additional 10% charge. Since then, it generates about $1 billion a year that goes towards conservation. 

Enter Georgia Congressman Andrew Clyde. Rep. Clyde, who not only likes guns but also sells them in his gun shop, believes that any tax on gun ownership is unconstitutional. More so that any stamp tax on silencers, SBR’s and giggle switches is outside the realm of what the Founding Fathers wanted. Mostly because the Founding Fathers started a revolution over a 3% tax increase on tea and stamps. 

Rep. Clyde introduced the RETURN (Repeal Excise Tax on Unalienable Rights Now) act, which would eradicate Pittman-Robertson and any other taxes on firearms, and for that matter, all fishing and outdoors equipment. 

The programmed statement from hunting and fishing groups is as follows: 

  1. Hunters and fishermen are all in favor of this tax and gladly pay it and would pay more.
  2. Conservation will crumble if Pittman-Robertson is undone. 

Reading through the articles from Field and Stream, Outdoor Life, BHA and Meateater, everyone has cried that this is the end as we know it for hunting and fishing in America. They expressed that $1 Billion is critical and overall, required for conservation. 

I will admit, $1 billion is a nice chunk of change, but the government is everything but short on money. The RETURN act allocates $800 million to be redirected from land and mineral leases to go directly into the fund to fill the void. Considering nearly $50 billion has been sent to Ukraine in the past 12 months without anyone making it clear where that money came from, the Feds have shown that not only do they have the money to fund conservation efforts, but resurrect the woolly mammoth. 

But let’s address the main issue: why are we being taxed on what we believe is a God given right? Mark Twain said “A tax is a fee for doing well, and a fine is a tax for doing wrong”, so why are we punished with a tax for exercising our 2nd Amendment right? Why are your liberties taxable? 

They aren’t, or at least they shouldn’t be. 

The same groups mentioned above that believe conservation funding trumps constitutional rights need to take a step back and evaluate their foundations not just as outdoorsmen, but as Americans. The taxation of the people to access a constitutionally protected right is not only an injustice, but an affront to liberty. Certain writers have ridiculed Rep. Clyde’s call for liberty, which should tell you everything you need to know. 

At a time where politicians are calling for a 1000% tax increase by means of Pittman-Robertson, wanting to make gun ownership only accessible for only the wealthiest citizens, it is not difficult to see the weaponization that will truly stifle our civil liberties. Meateater’s response to this was to simply just write your congressman….

To pretend that Pittman-Robertson is the only way we can pay for habitat and conservation is not just a lie, but a blatant insult to Americans. This is being used as a means of gun control and per usual, as a means of abusing a law to limit freedom. 

The odds of this making it through the Swamp is unclear, but the principle is clear. If they truly cared about conservation, they would find another way to fund it, plain and simple. 




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