Firearm Industry Surpasses $16 Billion in Pittman-Robertson Conservation Funds

The total represents more than $1 billion contributed to conservation in the past year alone.

by posted on May 9, 2023
Elk Herd Elk Refuge Fws Usfwsimage
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service image

If you shoot or hunt, you no doubt have heard the words "Pittman-Robertson" bantered about as it relates to conservation funding. But if you've ever wondered what impact that legislation actually translates to for outdoor and hunting activities, here's some welcome information in from the firearm industry trade association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). NSSF has announced that firearm and ammunition manufacturers topped $16.1 billion in excise tax contributions to the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund since its inception in 1937. When adjusted for inflation, the total is more than $25 billion. The latest Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax (FAET) Collection report released by the Department of the Treasury, covering the 4th Quarter Calendar Year 2022, indicates that firearm and ammunition manufacturers contributed more than $235 million, the third-highest 4th calendar-quarter in history.

“The entire firearm and ammunition industry should celebrate this truly outstanding achievement and take pride in this announcement,” said NSSF President and CEO Joe Bartozzi. “The firearm and ammunition industry understands the conservation of wildlife and the habitats in which they thrive are invaluable. They are critical to future generations taking part in hunting and the recreational shooting sports traditions and learning about their vital importance. The Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund, funded significantly by taxes paid by firearm and ammunition manufacturers, is responsible for the restoration and recovery of America’s iconic game species across the country, including the Rocky Mountain elk, whitetail deer, pronghorn antelope, wild turkey and a variety of waterfowl. These contributions have also facilitated the remarkable recovery of the majestic American bald eagle, of which there are now more than 316,000 in the lower 48 states. The firearm and ammunition industry is filled with pride to achieve this landmark for conservation funding and the role our industry plays to ensure America’s wildlife is perpetuated for future generations.”

The astonishing total represents more than $1 billion contributed to conservation since announcing crossing the $15 billion contribution threshold just 12 months ago. It was less than one year before that remarkable achievement that NSSF announced Firearm and Ammunition Excise Tax contributions surpassed $14 billion.

The Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund, commonly known as the Pittman-Robertson fund, is funded by excise taxes paid by firearm and ammunition manufacturers on their products, as well as archery equipment manufacturers. The excise tax is set at 11 percent of the wholesale price for long guns and ammunition and 10 percent of the wholesale price for handguns. The excise tax, paid by manufacturers and importers, applies to all firearms produced or imported for commercial federal law enforcement sales, whether the purpose is for recreational shooting, hunting or personal defense. The tax is administered by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) of the Department of the Treasury, which turns the funds over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

USFWS deposits the Pittman-Robertson revenues into a special account called the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund administered by the USFWS. These funds are made available to states and territories the year following their collection based on a statutory formula.

These 10 to 11 percent excise tax dollars collected since 1937 under the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act are specifically designated to be used by state wildlife agencies for conservation and related purposes. Collectively, purchasers of firearms and ammunition, hunters and the industry are the greatest source of wildlife conservation funding.

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