The Second Amendment and Conservation
The oldest conservation organization in North America has released its position on gun ownership and its historical influence on wildlife conservation.
“Sportsmen have known for a long time that hunting supports and funds wildlife conservation and management programs,” said Ben B. Hollingsworth Jr., president of the Boone and Crockett Club. “What is often overlooked is that the most successful system of wildlife conservation ever devised – the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation – would not have been possible without sportsmen and their right to own and use firearms.”
Public ownership of firearms was instrumental to the birth of the conservation movement in North America and still contributes to its continued success. The Boone and Crockett Club supports the right of citizens to own and use firearms. This right allows hunters to contribute to and maintain the longstanding success of wildlife conservation and management in North America.
“By the late nineteenth century wildlife species were depleted everywhere in North America,” said Hollingsworth. “It is indisputable that the hunter-conservationist movement rescued many species from certain extinction.”
Early hunter-conservationists like Theodore Roosevelt, who formed the Boone and Crockett Club in 1887, took action to allow game species to recover in the abundance we have today. Sportsmen across the nation joined Roosevelt in choosing to restrict themselves, limit their take, and abide by newly formed game laws and regulated hunting seasons. But they took one more step, explained Hollingsworth Jr.
“Even in the height of the Great Depression, sportsmen voted to tax themselves for the benefit of wildlife.” The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson Act), proposed by sportsmen and passed by Congress in 1937, placed an excise tax on the sale of sporting arms and ammunition with the funds earmarked for wildlife conservation and distributed to state fish and wildlife agencies. In 2016, $700 million were generated and to date, nearly $10 billion has been distributed to states.
“As we know, game species did recover, but the habitats that were secured and managed for game species now benefit all wildlife,” said Hollingsworth. “None of this would be possible without the Second Amendment. It is why protecting and maintaining gun ownership by the public is so critical to wildlife conservation.”
The full position statement and video can be found at this link.