During an SCI show luncheon yesterday, SCI’s Director of Litigation Anna Seidman announced the introduction of the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 in the U.S. Senate by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). This important compendium of pro-hunting provisions was passed by the House but has been blocked in the Senate for years. Now, with the election of several new pro-hunting Senators in 2014 and the resulting change in chamber leadership, the bill now has its best chance ever to be passed through both chambers of the Congress. SCI worked in conjunction with the National Rifle Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, the Boone and Crockett Club, and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation who worked tirelessly from the very first day of the 114th Congress on the introduction of this landmark piece of legislation.
“SCI would like to thank Senator Murkowski for her leadership and support for America’s hunters and anglers,” said SCI President Craig Kauffman. “America’s hunters and anglers trust that the U.S. Senate will take action on this landmark piece of legislation quickly to preserve our hunting heritage for future generations of sportsmen.
I immediately contacted NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action for more details on the legislation and how it would protect and enhance our opportunities for hunting, shooting and fishing. Here’s what NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox had to say on behalf of NRA’s five million members.
“Preserving our Second Amendment freedoms and hunting heritage is the core of the NRA’s mission. The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 advances those efforts,” Cox explained. “I want to thank Senator Murkowski for her leadership on this issue. As a result of her hard work and determination, this important legislation is one step closer to becoming law.”
For a fast fact, did you know America’s 15 million hunters spent $38.3 billion in 2011 alone, helping to create 680,000 jobs? Sportsmen and women contribute another $1.6 billion annually to conservation through license and permitting fees and charitable donations. With all this in mind, the legislation is a compilation of various legislative efforts that seek to reduce the regulations that prevent Americans from enjoying our outdoor heritage.
As reported by NRA-ILA, key provisions of the legislation include:
Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Protection – This key provision clarifies that ammunition, ammunition components, and fishing equipment are exempt from regulation by the Environment Protection Agency under the Toxic Substances Control Act. This provision is necessary because anti-hunting extremist groups have filed multiple petitions with the EPA to ban fishing sinkers and the use of lead ammunition for all purposes, not just hunting. Those petitions have been rejected, but the groups use the administrative rejections as an excuse to sue the agency in pursuit of the same restrictions.
Recreational Self Protection – This section would give law-abiding gun owners more access to carry firearms on land managed by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Making Public Lands Public – This section requires that 1.5% of the annual Land and Water Conservation Fund goes toward securing access for sportsmen to public lands that are currently either landlocked or otherwise significantly restricted.
Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act – This section makes more funds available to state fish and wildlife agencies for the development of shooting ranges.
Bows Transported through National Parks – This provision will allow bows to be transported across national park lands. Currently, only firearms can be legally transported, which poses a practical problem for bow hunters who want to legally hunt on Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management lands, but must cross National Park Service lands in order to do so.