Opinion: Politically motivated legislation misses mark

OUR VIEW

A predictable part of election years is lawmaking intended to score political wins.

One such measure that misses the mark like a poor marksman trying to hit the broad side of a Georgia barn is a bill introduced late last month by U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, ostensibly to further burnish Second Amendment gun rights.

HR 8167 would repeal a federal tax on firearm and ammunition sales that pays for important conservation efforts. The legislation would substitute “unallocated” money from energy leases to pay for this work.

An opinion piece on the website of Field & Stream magazine, which no one can reasonably accuse of being an enemy of the shooting sports, characterized things this way: “For 85 years, the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, also known as the Pittman-Robertson Act, has raised billions of dollars for wildlife research and habitat acquisition. The bill, which is funded by a 10 to 11 percent excise tax on hunting and fishing gear, including firearms, is arguably the most important source of conservation funding in the United States.”

The venerable law seems a reasonable way for hunters and shooters to help pay for preserving the places they frequent as part of their pastime.

One would think that Rep. Clyde, whose Athens gun shop bears his name, would understand the logic and appropriateness of this funding stream.

It doesn’t seem that way. Or maybe the allure of gaining easy political points trumped that.

His comments suggest the latter. Clyde said in a press release that, “As assaults against Americans’ Second Amendment freedoms continue to emerge, so do treacherous threats that seek to weaponize taxation in order to price this constitutional right out of the reach of average Americans. I firmly believe that no American should be taxed on their enumerated rights, which is why I intend to stop the Left’s tyranny in its tracks… .”

Anyone who’s ever paid a price for exercising their rights to free speech or a day in court could likely inform Rep. Clyde that constitutional rights don’t always come free of charge.

His bit of scattershot political theater should not come anywhere near passing into law.

The Editorial Board.