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The Eco-Munitionary Subject: Conservation with and of Firearms

Journal Title Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space
Published Date February 22, 2023
Research Type
Authors Christopher Rea


The Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937 was a transformative piece of legislation for wildlife management and conservation in the United States, incentivizing the creation of state wildlife agencies and establishing funding mechanisms for these agencies. The legislation directs an excise tax on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment to a fund to support wildlife restoration projects by state wildlife agencies. In 2021 alone, this generated more than $1 billion in project funds. Although commonly framed as a user pays model of conservation whereby hunters fund wildlife management, most of the excise taxes collected on firearms and ammunition are now associated with non-hunting uses. Despite this disconnect, many firearms industry groups continue to support and promote their relationship to Pittman-Robertson. Here, we examine the role of Pittman-Robertson in shaping the relationship between firearms and conservation and seek to understand how this relationship is reproduced. We examine this shifting relationship through an analysis of amendments to Pittman-Robertson since its creation and a discourse analysis of contemporary materials from web sites of firearms, hunting, shooting, and conservation organizations. Drawing on the concept of environmentality and diverse ecologies, we argue that Pittman-Robertson has contributed to the production of, and been re-shaped by, a distinct environmental actor: the eco-munitionary subject.

Casellas Connors, J. P., Carlino, E. A., & Rea, C. M. (2023). The eco-munitionary subject: Conservation with and of firearms. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, 0(0).