The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industries, praised the U.S. Senate’s bipartisan reintroduction of S.733, the Sportsmen’s Act of 2017 and the quick action to favorably report it out of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Similar legislation was agreed upon by both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate late last year, but stalled in a joint House-Senate conference committee. The bipartisan legislative package expands and enhances sportsmen’s access by making federal lands throughout the nation “open unless closed” for fishing, hunting, recreational shooting, and other outdoor activities.
The legislation is sponsored by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), both members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, along with CSC leaders Sens. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).
“The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act will help ensure that our nation’s hunting, fishing and shooting traditions are preserved, protected and promoted,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. “This legislation addresses many priorities for American hunters, anglers and recreational shooters and its reintroduction in the Senate and immediate committee hearing is representative of the commitment these senators and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus shares for the sportsmen’s community and for America.” The proposed legislation package would:
- Reauthorize federal lands are “open unless closed” policy for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting;
- Allow transport of bows and crossbows on National Parks lands;
- Exempt film crews of three or less from commercial filming fees and additional permits;
- Implement the “Hunt Unrestricted on National Treasures” (HUNT) Act, improving access to federal lands for hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation;
- Increase states’ authority to allocate Pittman-Robertson funds for construction and maintenance of public recreational shooting ranges;
- Permanently establish the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee to advise the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture on wildlife and habitat conservation, hunting, and recreational shooting issues.
“For too long, sportsmen’s access to our federal lands has been restricted without reason or transparency,” said Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski. “Our bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act will ensure that our federal lands are open unless closed, provide new opportunities for more Americans to enjoy those lands, and require federal agencies to expand and enhance access in accordance with their missions. The bill we introduced is an important first step as we seek to have these priorities signed into law.”