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Vermont: Multiple Anti-Gun/-Hunting Bills to be Heard in House Committee Tomorrow

Monday, March 30, 2015

Vermont: Multiple Anti-Gun/-Hunting Bills to be Heard in House Committee Tomorrow

Tomorrow, March 31, the House Committee on Fish, Wildlife, and Water Resources is set to hear testimony on House Bill 296, House Bill 297, and House Bill 460.

H.296, introduced by state Representative Alison Clarkson (D-Windsor-5), would have negative impacts on shooting ranges by amending certain provisions to establish authorized hours of operation in Vermont, and to repeal the limitation that only an owner of an adjacent property to a sport shooting range may bring a nuisance claim against the range.

H.297, introduced by state Representatives Kurt Wright (R-Chittenden-6-1) and Joan Lenes (D-Chittenden-5-2), would prohibit the import, sale, offer for sale, purchase, barter or possession with intent to sell of any ivory, ivory product, rhinoceros horn, or rhinoceros horn product. H.297 was introduced with the intent of curbing poaching of elephants in Africa and helping to end the illegal ivory trade.  Unfortunately, H.297 would not accomplish its purported objective and would only have a negative impact on those who possess lawfully acquired ivory. 

Historically, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service maintained the position that most ivory in the U.S. has been legally imported and that its sale in the U.S. did not materially contribute to the illegal ivory trade. Nevertheless, under H.297, virtually any lawful item containing any amount of ivory, with very limited and narrow exceptions, would be rendered valueless as it would be a misdemeanor for you to sell it or for another person to buy it. The bottom line is: any property made from a product that was lawfully acquired should not be made illegal to sell; such an action is effectively a taking of property without compensation.

H. 460, introduced by state Representative Willem Jewett (D-Addison-2), would prohibit the use of lead ammunition for the taking of wildlife.  As we have seen with attempts to ban the use of lead ammunition in other states, arguments in favor of these bans are based on faulty science.  It is important to fully understand the facts concerning traditional hunting ammunition so Vermonters are not mislead into adopting a ban that could significantly impact hunting in Vermont.  There has been no sound scientific evidence stating that traditional ammunition is having a population-level impact on any species in Vermont.  Additionally, a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in North Dakota to address blood lead levels in hunters and their families did not find a health risk for those who consume wild game taken with lead ammunition.

A ban on lead ammunition would be disastrous for hunters and conservation as alternatives are significantly more expensive.  Hunters and target shooters are the largest supporters of federal conservation efforts through excise taxes levied on ammunition and firearms, and an increase in the cost of ammunition would reduce ammunition sales, affecting funding for vital conservation programs.  Since 1937, hunters and target shooters have contributed more than 7.2 billion dollars through the Pittman-Robertson Act for the benefit of all wildlife species.

Proponents of H.460 are using the same questionable science and scare tactics that have been employed in other states to claim that hunters’ lead ammunition presents serious health risk threats to Vermont’s wildlife, hunters and their families.  Lead ammunition ban proponents will not stop until Vermont becomes the next state to ban all lead ammunition for all hunting unless you stop them!

Please contact the members of the House Committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources TODAY and politely urge them to OPPOSE House Bill 296, 297 and 460!  Contact information for committee members is provided below.

House Committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources:

Representative David Deen (D-Windham-4), Chair
ddeen@leg.state.vt.us  

Representative Jim McCullough (D-Chittenden-2), Vice-Chair
jim_mccullough@myfairpoint.net  

Representative Steve Beyor (R-Franklin-5)
sbeyor@leg.state.vt.us  

Representative Robert Krebs (D-Grand Isle-Chittenden)
rkrebs@leg.state.vt.us  

Representative Paul Lefebvre (R-Essex-Caledonia-Orleans)
plefebvre@leg.state.vt.us  

Representative Amy Sheldon (D-Addison-1)
asheldon@leg.state.vt.us  

Representative Thomas Terenzini (R-Rutland-4)
tterenzini@leg.state.vt.us  

Representative Kate Webb (D-Chittenden-5-1)
kwebb@leg.state.vt.us  

Representative Janssen Willhoit (R-Caledonia-3)
jwillhoit@leg.state.vt.us  

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