Cheap Shots at Shooting Ranges UPDATED BELOW; AGAIN; AND AGAIN
Bounce over and read the blog comments on the Goldwater Institute's commercial.
I had sent an email to the Goldwater Institute on this topic basically complaining that they must not like hunting and shooting if they wanted politicians involved on controlling our money.
Their (GI) prompt response is below.
Thank you for your interest in this issue. First, let me assure that you that the Goldwater Institute is not anti-hunting. We have been and continue to be a strong advocate for Second Amendment rights, which of course includes hunting as a vocation or personal hobby.
Second, I would like to explain why the $800,000 figure appears in the Goldwater Institute video. House Bill 2002 set aside this money for remodeling and other improvements at the Ben Avery shooting range -- not for regular maintenance. The bill says the money comes from the Game and Fish capital improvement fund. In turn, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee confirms that money from the fund does come from various hunting and fishing licenses.
We are not suggesting that the Legislature “confiscate” the $800,000 for unrelated programs. But in these extremely difficult budget times, is remodeling the Ben Avery shooting range really the best use of these funds to benefit the greater hunting and fishing communities? Keep in the mind that the Game and Fish Department has been forced to delay maintenance and forgo the purchase of vehicles that could be vital for game wardens and wildlife conservationists to carry out their daily duties across the state. Also, these funds could be used to further enhance the fight against invasive species such as the quagga mussel.
Finally, if the state really has no better use for the $800,000, why not simply return the money to people who are struggling to purchase hunting licenses in the first place because of Arizona’s economic downturn? Surely, improvements to the Ben Avery shooting range could wait a couple of years until the economy has recovered, if such improvements truly are a necessary government function.
This is what the Goldwater Institute means when our video says that policymakers should fix their spending priorities before asking voters for another tax increase.
Please me know if you have any other concerns that I could address.
(602) 462-5000, ext. 228
500 E. Coronado St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
I disagree with the basis of the explanation in that there seems to be some initial evaluation assumptions of what hunters and recreational shooters need. I am a hunter and recreational shooter and feel that keeping the Avery Range a top notch facility by continual improvements is very important. I would suggest that it is easier/better to get the newbie involved in shooting first prior to even talking about hunting. A lot of people have standing offers to take the newbie to the range the first time supplying weapons and ammunition for that person for free. It is easier as less money and equipment is required to get started and develop that interest. You need to see if the individual enjoys shooting prior to try to convince them to go hunting. It would be better as you can promote safe weapons handling and marksmanship prior to ever going to the field.
The standing joke is that minute-of-pieplate is adequate for hunting. This is far from the truth as that minute-of-pieplate may be required at 300 yards (or longer) for big game hunting. Minute-of-pieplate at 50 yards results in missed or wounded animals at distance. You can't get comfortable shooting your hunting weapon during the hunt. As my friend Kevin says, "Hunting is taking your weapon for a walk." This is true as most big game hunts should involve one shot. As we hunters say - the fun stops when the animal drops. Many people that never go hunting put a lot of money into the fund via the weapons and ammunition taxes.
I say that better range facilities increase the number of people involved the sports and therefor increase the income to the funds for all topics.
OK - I could not let it go so I responded.
I disagree with the basis of the explanation in that there seems to be some initial evaluation assumptions of what hunters and recreational shooters need or what is best for them. I am a hunter and recreational shooter and feel that keeping the Avery Range a top notch facility by continual improvements is very important. I would suggest that it is easier/better to get the newbie involved in shooting first prior to even talking about hunting. A lot of people have standing offers to take the newbie to the range the first time supplying weapons and ammunition for that person for free. It is easier as less money and equipment is required to get started and develop that interest. You need to see if the individual enjoys shooting prior to try to convince them to go hunting. It would be better as you can promote safe weapons handling and marksmanship prior to ever going to the field.
The standing joke is that minute-of-pieplate is adequate for hunting. This is far from the truth as that minute-of-pieplate may be required at 300 yards (or longer) for big game hunting. Minute-of-pieplate at 50 yards results in missed or wounded animals at distance. You can't get comfortable shooting your hunting weapon during the hunt. As one of my friends says, "Hunting is taking your weapon for a walk." This true as most big game hunts should involve one shot. As we hunters say - the fun stops when the animal drops. Many people that never go hunting put a lot of money into the fund via the weapons and ammunition taxes.
I say that better range facilities increase the number of people involved the sports and therefor increase the income to the funds for all topics including the mussel. "
"Without discounting anything you say about the need for practice (in fact, I’m sure you are absolutely right), the question for us comes down to whether this is a need that absolutely must be the responsibility of government. Or should hunters-in-training pool their own funds to support private, quality shooting ranges? For the record, we ask the exact question about other outdoor activities from golf to batting cages. "
"This is an unusual response at best and makes me think that you do support outside groups controlling these funds. Who defines that need? You, politicians, I certainly hope not as you seem very confused as to how this works. Hunters-in-training?? You have got to be kidding. Again, we already pool our money and one the most important things to us as a group is the continuation of our sports without interference from outside groups with their own agenda. You apparently feel that you know what is the best use of our funds.
The only responsibility of the state government is approve the budget created by the AZ Game & Fish Commission. The Commission members are recommended to the Governor by a Commission Recommendation Board made up of three sportsman representatives, one member from the cattle/ranching community, and one public member of a non-game organization.
Their duties are:
1 - Assists the Governor to identify prospective AZGFD Commission candidates.
2 - Conduct a public forum for the public to meet AZGFD Commission applicants.
3 - Review applications and make a recommendation to the Governor.
4 - May make recommendations to Legislature on AZGFD Commission qualifications.
I would suggest that the state governments approval is a statement of legality not purpose. The State doesn't fund shooting ranges. Non-profit organization donations and the users pay for the ranges. You want to see the donations go away? Do you want to see the hundreds of hours volunteered to make the ranges better go away? Just move forward with your wonderful ideas.
To take a paragraph from a fellow blogger, "A great reason for a state to encourage the development of shooting ranges is the creation of multi-use facilities for law enforcement training, civilian marksmanship training, hunter education, and competition use. Shooting competitions and firearms training attract tourist dollars too. One way our state reduces the tax burden is through the sharing of the shooting ranges with law enforcement. If we didn’t share the ranges, each municipality would spend millions to create a shooting range for each law enforcement agency. Under our system, the Tempe Police pay a modest fee to use the Rio Salado Sportsmen’s Club shooting range for officer firearms training, practice, and firearms qualification testing. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office uses the Ben Avery Arizona Shooting Range. Public ranges in Tucson are used by the Tucson Police, US Border Patrol, and by the military."
Your statement, "Why not simply return the money to people who are struggling to purchase licenses in the first place because of Arizona's economic downturn." has some inherent flaws. What people are you referring to, everyone? How would you intend that this money not be distributed to those who have never purchased a license or paid tax on ammunition? It would seem that you are suggesting a redistribution of money to people who had nothing to do with this fund to begin with. Let's confiscate this money and give to everyone.
And here I thought that we as hunters/shooters were pooling our own money to use. If we didn't like the usage of it we would let the Governor and AZ Game & Fish Commission know our thoughts. I guess that I am partially correct on my first assumptions. You are not purposely against hunting/shooting but are unaware of the unintended consequences of this type action."
It should be interesting so I will continue to post it up.
Let me back up a second here and explain an issue that’s fundamental to the mission of Goldwater Institute. Any group of people can voluntarily get together, privately pool their resources and accomplish something great for themselves and for society as a whole. This is the right to peaceful assembly that’s protected by the First Amendment. One aspect of this right is if the association doesn’t use the pooled resources to your satisfaction, you can walk away and use your time and money in some other way. In the end, no one can force you to do anything with your labor and personal income without your permission.
However, when government pools such resources on your behalf, it ultimately relies on its coercive police powers to make that happen. The government can compel you, even against your wishes, to contribute to a purpose that you don’t support and never would voluntarily contribute to. If you try to refuse to pay the government, it can use its police powers to take away your income through civil fines or to take away your freedom by placing you in jail.
Because of the incredible and terrible powers present anytime that government takes action, the Goldwater Institute advocates for keeping government involvement as limited as possible, so that we are free to use our minds and our hands and our money to best meet our own needs and not someone else’s.
You can pretend that hunters are merely pooling their own money through the Game and Fish Department to accomplish common goals. But of course, if you refuse to pay the hunter license fees (or even a portion of those fees) because you disagree with how they are spent – and still go hunting – the state is going to fine you and possibly put you in jail.
How does this relate to the Ben Avery shooting range? It’s a question of whether we should empower government to possibly throw hunters in jail who might not want to pay for it, or at least might not want to pay for it in the way that Game and Fish now decides how the funds are used. Sure, the shooting range is used by the police and military, but it probably would be designed much differently if it strictly for their use and not available to private shooters as well.
Please note that I think you misinterpreted my statement, "Why not simply return the money to people who are struggling to purchase licenses in the first place because of Arizona's economic downturn." I meant the state could return the money to the hunters who paid the fees, not to anyone else. I personally know hunters who have cut back on the game licenses they obtain because they can’t afford all of the fees when they are unemployed or working less than 40 hours a week in a bad economy.
Thanks again for your interest in this issue,
Seems like a slight diversion to me - Look a pony!
Mr. Le Templar,
You are backing up to a different topic. We are discussing how the money is guided at this point in time not whether the law is good but I will comment on this also. I have mixed feeling about the Pittman-Robertson Act for the same reasons you mention but..............there was a time when licenses and fees were non-existent. Our population increased and the animals we like to hunt almost disappeared. In the 1930, the enroachment of humans on habitat and over-hunting without regulation had caused populations of many game species to almost disappear. You would be lucky to find a white tail deer as they were almost hunted out. Comes along the Pittman-Robertson Act in 1937. It was actually successful and controversial. Many sportsmen decided they liked the idea. A lot were dismayed that the Feds were involved. Both were right.
Later on a repeal bill was drawn to relieve sportsmen from the financial burden of the excise tax. However, because dramatic results could be seen nationwide, sportsmen insisted on keeping the tax in place. Today the nationwide deer population is about 20 million strong. Pittman-Robertson was a rare legislative model for efficiency and a godsend for hunters and animals alike.
There have been difficulties of mismanagement in the past. I believe that another act was passed in 2000 that strictly limited what the USFWS could spend the taxes on and in what manner they can be spent. Is it not always fair to everyone as not everyone is interested in all topics supported by the funds such as game management, non-game management, shooting ranges, hunters' safety, etc. I do not like some of the money used for studies on banning lead shot, minnows, the frantic funny featherless warbler, or...there is a laundry list here however there are ways for me to complain about this and actual effect some change at the state level. There are birders who buy binoculars and complain that some of there money goes to hunting and shooting. There has to be a better plan presented before I can accept the repealing of this act.
Let's go back to the original discussion. There is no valid way to refund these fees back out fairly even if the sportsmen so desired. The competitive shooter buys more ammo in a year than most hunters buy in a lifetime. How could it be fair to give his contribution back to license holders only? There is no valid way to do this that does not leave one group or another ignored. I really get nailed as I like competitive shooting, hunting (elk,deer, mountain lion, dove, you name it), fishing, archery, etc. I should probably get more back than the guy who is just complaining about a license fee. Right?
When I watched the ad the GI basically accuses politicians of lying (Are their lips moving?), then seems to connect increased taxation to the shooting range improvements. They are not connected. I expect that this was not what was intended however that's how it reads.
GI seems to very responsive in answering so this is to their credit. We'll see what the next response is.
Ultimately, we probably will have to agree to disagree on this point. However, I would mention that everything the Goldwater Institute does is guided by the fundamental principles of limited government and economic freedom. We don’t always have to the opportunity to explain those principles in detail when we use various means of communication to discuss the policy issues of the day. That’s certainly the case in a 30-second video. You believe improvements to the shooting range are a justified priority for government tax dollars. We believe the timing is inappropriate, considering that Governor Jan Brewer and many lawmakers are asking for another statewide tax increase because, they claim, there’s simply no other way left to save money (remember that the state already has raised property taxes this year by $250 million).
Thank you for the thoughtful discussion and useful feedback. I definitely have learned a lot about this issue and how funding works for the Game and Fish Department.
You are correct on the point of having to agree to disagree. You still stand by the assumption that the shooting range improvements are somehow associated with state tax increases. The state cannot touch this fund. You use a misdirected topic to make a valid point about state spending. Whether the timing is right or not, the ends do not justify the means so I am very disappointed in the Goldwater Institute. We can probably call it quits on communicating as it is obvious that you will continue to try to defend this without any new substance.
OK - it becomes obvious that I am really wasted my time here unless some of the readers have gained any insight through these exchanges. If you did gain anything then I am pleased. I will post on this if there is any follow-up.