NRA-Backed Sportsmen’s Bills Pass U.S. House

Gun Rights

In a divided Washington, there isnt much that gets done with support from both sides of the aisle. However, last week, in an instance of rare bipartisanship, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two NRA-backed sportsmens bills.

The first bill is H.R. 615, the Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act. Introduced by Rep. Rob Wittman (VA-01), this legislation would prohibit the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture from arbitrarily banning the use of traditional ammunition on federal land or water under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture.

This NRA-supported legislation is in response to the Biden administrations repeated attempts to limit Americansaccess to hunt and shoot on our federal lands. Bidens U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced a continuation of policies initiated under the Trump administration to expand opportunities on national wildlife refuges. However, the expansions under Biden would phase-out the use of traditional lead ammunition and fishing tackle on these lands. These decisions are not based on science and are another example of the Biden administration caving to environmental extremists.

This ammunition ban would make hunting more difficult and more expensive for hunters who want to access our public lands. As NRA has reported previously, non-lead ammunition, often made of copper alloys, is more expensive than traditional lead varieties. There are currently no alternatives comparable in terms of cost, ballistics and availability.

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Anti-hunting groups and gun control supporters want lead ammunition banned for hunting to raise the cost of ammunition and, as a result, to dissuade people from participating in hunting and acquiring firearms for that purpose. Furthermore, the decision to ban traditional ammunition would also adversely impact wildlife conservation. Excise tax dollars that manufacturers pay on the sale of traditional ammunition is the primary source of wildlife conservation funding in the United States.

The second bill is H.R. 764, the Trust the Science Act. Introduced by Rep. Lauren Boebert (CO-03), this legislation requires the Secretary of the Interior to reissue a final rule that removes the gray wolf in the lower 48 states from the list of protected species under the Endangered Species Act.

The gray wolf was first granted federal protection in 1967 under the Endangered Species Preservation Act. In the years to follow, additional gray wolf subspecies were granted similar protections. After Congress passed the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973, the USFWS combined multiple previous gray wolf listings into one listing in 1978. This decision listed the gray wolf as threatened in Minnesota and endangered in the rest of the lower 48 states.

Following decades of successful conservation efforts, the gray wolf has exceeded established population targets, and the population is now thriving. In light of this ESA success story, the Trump administration removed the gray wolf from the endangered species list in 2020 and returned the management of their populations to the lower 48 states. In response, radical environmental extremists and anti-hunting groups immediately sued to stop the delisting. In 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California vacated the 2020 rule removing the gray wolf from the endangered list. H.R. 764 would reverse this decision and require the Secretary of the Interior to follow the science and reissue a final rule delisting the gray wolf in the lower 48 states.

The NRA has long supported legislative and legal efforts to return wildlife management to the states. This legislation would not only allow states to better manage wolves, but it would also benefit hunters by allowing them to play a more active role in wildlife management and protect vulnerable big-game animals from over-predation.

Both bills are now being transmitted to the U.S. Senate, where they await consideration. NRA-ILA will keep you apprised of any developments.

On behalf of the millions of NRA members, gun owners, and sportsmen across the nation, we thank Speaker Mike Johnson (LA-04), Majority Leader Steve Scalise (LA-01) and Majority Whip Tom Emmer (MN-06) for bringing these bills to the Floor. We also would like to thank Natural Resources Committee Chairman Bruce Westerman (AR-04) and the sponsors of the legislation, Reps. Rob Wittman (VA-01) and Lauren Boebert (CO-03), for their leadership on these important issues.

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