Gun Sales Surge Fuels Record Funding for Wildlife Programs

Gregory Gwyn-Williams, Jr.
By Gregory Gwyn-Williams, Jr. | June 3, 2013 | 2:18 PM EDT

According to a Congressional Services Report, the surge in firearms and ammunition sales has generated record tax revenues dedicated to wildlife restoration.

The report reveals that the excise taxes on firearms, ammunition and archery equipment collected in FY2012 totaled $555.3 million.  This is up from $388.2 million in FY2011, an increase of approximately 43 percent.

The previous single-year record was $474 million in 2010.

"Through an excise tax on firearms and ammunition, such sales have a marked beneficial effect on funding for state wildlife programs through the Wildlife Restoration Program," the introduction of the report states.

The Wildlife Restoration Program, aka Pittman-Robertson (P-R), uses proceeds from the federal excise tax to fund grants to states and territories for projects that will benefit wildlife resources, including hunter education programs.

The P-R Act was enacted in 1937 but the excise tax has been collected since 1919.  Since its inception, the program has collected over $7 billion in revenues.

The excise tax is collected by the wholesaler and is set as follows:

  • 10% of wholesale price on pistols/revolvers
  • 11% of wholesale price for other firearms, and shells or cartridges
  • 11% on archery equipment

Approximately 31% of the funds are collected from the sales of pistols and revolvers, 37% from other firearms and 31% from ammunition, according to the report.

The revenues collected from the tax go into an account called the Wildlife Restoration Fund which is administered by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The money is distributed to each state according to a formula which includes $8 million for Enhanced Hunter Education and $3 million to supplement projects that involve cooperation between states.  One-half of the tax collected on pistols, revolvers, bows and arrows is set aside for Basic Hunter Education.

"With reports of surges in gun sales due to current controversies over gun rights and gun-related violence, substantially more funds seem likely to be available in FY2014," the report states.

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