Bitter got the Pennsylvania Game Commission on the phone and asked them some questions about the new permit requirement for public shooting ranges in Pennsylvania. I think a lot of people will object to the fact that only $200,000 of $11,000,000 in Pittman-Robertson funds goes to range maintenance. This is especially true when you consider handguns make up more than half of PR funds, and very few handguns are used for hunting.
In effect, the whole of the shooting community is subsidizing hunting. This will no doubt be a controversial statement, but I think that shooters should accept this state of affairs. Until this past year, hunting numbers had been in decline, while hunting license fees have been relatively stable, and not kept up with inflation. This means in real terms, state wildlife management budgets have shrunk. Increasing budgets for shooting ranges would mean decreasing budgets to support hunting programs, or raising hunting license fees, which will only serve to drive more people out of the sport.
A lot of people are going to argue that the baby is sick, probably isn’t going to make it to shore, and we’d be far better off just throwing it off the life boat preemptively, so that we can use the supplies for the rest of us. The problem is, hunting is a critical part of this fight, and we’re going to be far weaker politically if we toss that baby over. We have hunting numbers on the upswing. Perhaps that will continue. Time will tell.