By Dave Workman
Nationally-syndicated Gun Talk host Tom Gresham is striking back at Colorado’s newly-enacted gun laws the best way he knows how—economically—and he is encouraging other gun owners and especially hunters to do likewise.
The idea has launched a debate within the hunting community about whether small business owners, guides and others who cater to hunters and other outdoorsmen and women should be made to suffer because Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a package of anti-gun measures that penalize gun owners for crimes like Sandy Hook and the Aurora “Batman Massacre.”
Gresham essentially is following the example set by Magpul Industries, the magazine manufacturer that is following through on its threat to move operations out of Colorado as a result of the new legislation. The new laws include one to limit the capacity of replacement magazines.
Gresham recently advised Colorado Tourism via e-mail that he will be “avoiding Colorado for business, hunting, and tourism as long as my firearm is prohibited there.”
Concerns about a hunter boycott against Colorado had been foreseen by Denver Post outdoor writer Scott Willoughby, who appealed to the firearms community on March 10, several days before Hickenlooper signed the bills, to not close their wallets.
“The groups would have you protest a potential background check for a gun purchase by refusing to go fishing,” he wrote, alluding to gun rights organizations including the National Rifle Association. “Clearly these groups need to have their collective heads examined.”
“To frame the argument in related vernacular,” he contended, “the notion of such a boycott takes aim at innocent victims. True, the arranged marriage between hunting and the Second Amendment establishes almost every hunter as a gun owner, if not the other way around. But the agency that regulates hunting, fishing and all wildlife in the state — Colorado Parks and Wildlife — has nothing to do with gun control legislation. Yet, the blamers have somehow managed to pin a target on its back.
“Punishing CPW by refusing to purchase hunting and fishing licenses is a bit like protesting the rising price of milk by refusing to eat hamburgers,” Willoughby argued. “Or protesting the price of gas by refusing to buy a new car. It’s a total misfire.”
But gun rights activists as far away as Washington State countered that this is about more than just a background check for a gun purchase. They reasoned that punishing law-abiding gun owners for the crimes of gunman Adam Lanza and Aurora suspect James Holmes by passing laws against legally-owned guns and accessories is just as unfair.
Colorado has a considerable amount of revenue at stake, because hunting brings in millions of dollars to the state’s economy, and Magpul represents a couple of hundred jobs that stand to be lost as the company moves elsewhere.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recently reported its annual distribution of excise tax revenues from the Pittman-Robertson federal aid to Wildlife Restoration program. Revenues from a federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition are apportioned to state fish and wildlife agencies, based on hunting license and tag sales. This year, Colorado’s share comes to $13,164,031, and at least some of that money is due to license sales to non-resident hunters who might follow Gresham’s lead and take their money elsewhere.
According to KUNC radio, “Colorado is a popular destination for hunters in particular, with the state issuing more licenses than any other for big game, including elk. The state Division of Parks and Wildlife says big game hunting nets more than $400 million annually.”
Last fall, the National Rifle Association reported that “Colorado is enjoying one of its biggest big game seasons ever and when it’s over the economic impact will top $403 million, according Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials.”
A report called “Hunting in America: An Economic Force for Conservation,” noted outdoors blogger Mia Anstine, shows that, “In Colorado alone, hunting added $762,750,827 to the state’s economy and supported 8,355 jobs.”
As far back as 2011, the Grand Junction Sentinel reported that, “Studies have shown the economic impact of fishing, hunting and wildlife-watching activities to Colorado is $3 billion annually, supporting 33,800 full-time jobs in the state.”