Did you know about the taxes you pay on firearms and ammunition? Many firearms owners know nothing about the excise taxes paid by gun businesses and passed on to customers when they buy guns and ammo. Excise taxes are collected by the producer or retailer and not paid directly by the firearms consumer. The excise taxes paid fund the Wildlife Restoration Program.

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The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) describes the program as follows: "The Wildlife Restoration Program (WR) provides grant funds to the states and insular areas fish and wildlife agencies for projects to restore, conserve, manage and enhance wild birds and mammals and their habitat. Projects also include providing public use and access to wildlife resources, hunter education and development and management of shooting ranges. The Program is authorized by the Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson PR) of 1937."

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(Many public shooting ranges maintained on state or federal land.....)

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(...Are paid for by WR funds)

"The WR Program is the nation's oldest and most successful wildlife restoration program. Through the purchases of firearms, ammunitions and archery equipment the WR Program is a successful user pay, user benefit program."

"Wildlife Restoration Program Federal Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax (FAET) is imposed on the sale or business use of the following articles by the manufacturer, producer or importer thereof at the following rates:

Handguns (10%) 1. Pistols 2. Revolvers

Other Firearms (11%) Includes any portable weapons, such as: 1. Rifles 2. Carbines 3. Machine guns 4. Shotguns 5. Fowling pieces. Portable weapons that use matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap ignition system, or black powder firearms 6.Antique firearms

Shells and Cartridges (11%) (Ammunition)

These taxes make up the majority of receipts but other items such as reloaded ammo sales and gunsmithing may also require an excise tax payment.

The total dollars appropriated to the states in 2015 are in excess of $808 million. The FWS says "Excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, archery equipment and arrow components are collected and appropriated from the Wildlife Restoration Account. These funds are apportioned to states, the District of Columbia and insular areas based on a formula. The formula for apportioning WR Funds is based on land area, number of paid license holders, minimums and maximums. The formula for apportioning Hunter Education funds is based on population and also includes minimums and maximums."

"Grants are then awarded to the states by the FWS who ensures the money is spent appropriately according the Act."

"States and the U.S. Insular Areas fish & wildlife agencies may apply for WR grants by contacting the specific WSFR Office or apply online at grants.gov. Grants funds are disbursed to states for approved grants up to 75% of the project costs and insular areas up to 100% of the project costs."

So you should pay attention to how your state uses these funds to make sure you are benefiting as intended. If you are not a hunter, you may wonder if you are really benefiting.

I can assure you that keeping wildlife resources healthy and huntable makes the Second Amendment something that hunters care about and will fight for. More hunters mean more passionate gun rights voters. The demand for guns and ammo for hunting keeps the firearms industry strong. In addition, gun safety education and public shooting ranges benefit the non-hunting gun owners.

For more about the Wildlife Restoration Program click here.