July 26, 2023
NSSF PROFILE Q&A: U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.)
Editor’s Note: We are pleased to post the latest of our occasional Q&A features with an elected official who supports hunting and the shooting sports. NSSF thanks U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.) for agreeing to talk with us. Rep. Hageman is serving in her first term representing Wyoming’s single at-large Congressional District. Congresswoman Hageman serves on two critical committees in the U.S. House of Representatives related to the firearm industry: the House Committee on Judiciary and the House Committee on Natural Resources.
1) Who introduced you to hunting and the shooting sports?
I grew up in a very rural setting, miles from any nearby town, with our closest neighbors being several miles down a dirt road. When you’re raised this way, you quickly learn independence and the importance of being able to protect yourself. While growing up we always had guns around to use for hunting and when we butchered. My introduction to shooting sports was through our county 4-H programs and target shooting. We were taught from a young age how to safely use guns and the respect you should have for them. It’s common for young children in Wyoming to have their own BB guns, and to be honing their skills with a .22 in short order. Our family was no different. My family members remain avid hunters and sportsmen, as we have elk, antelope, deer, turkeys, pheasant and duck on the ranch/farm that I grew up on near Fort Laramie and the surrounding area. My brothers and nephews still hunt regularly, and it is the highlight of my October when the first picture comes in of one of them next to one of Wyoming’s beautiful wildlife specimens.
2) Describe your most recent hunting or shooting sports activity.
My husband is an enthusiast of many things and one of them is guns. He’s always on the lookout for his next collector’s item or home protection piece. I enjoy listening to him as he talks with excitement about new makes, models and techniques. We are avid Second Amendment supporters in Wyoming, with a number of gun manufacturers spread across the state. Most recently, I had the pleasure of visiting Freedom Arms, in Freedom, Wyo. It is imperative that we protect our Second Amendment rights because they are the key in protecting the rest of the Constitution.
3) During your career as an attorney, are there any cases that you were involved with that highlight your support of shooting sports or hunting activities?
I came to Congress following a career as a litigator fighting against unconstitutional overreach from our federal government. In my role as Senior Litigation Counsel with the New Civil Liberties Alliance, I was one of the attorneys on Cargill v. Garland and Aposhian v. ATF, challenging the ATF’s effort to ban the ownership and use of bump stocks. We prevailed in the Cargill case, and I anticipate that such a decision will be upheld through future appeals, with a finding that the ATF does not have the authority to declare bump stocks to be “machine guns.”
I also represented numerous outfitters, guides and sportsmen groups in Wyoming throughout the 15-year saga challenging the United States Fish & Wildlife Service’s refusal to properly manage the Canadian gray wolf population that was introduced into the Greater Yellowstone Area. The outfitters, guides and sportsmen groups (along with numerous other organizations) were involved in that litigation as predation by the gray wolf on our trophy game animals (elk, deer and moose primarily) was substantially affecting their businesses and the experiences of the hunting public. In 2017 we prevailed against the USFWS, and the gray wolf population in Wyoming has been delisted. Our Game & Fish Department is thus able to balance the needs of a variety of interests, including protecting other wildlife species and ensuring that we have robust populations for sports hunting.
As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, I have been able to continue this fight in Congress through questioning ATF Director Steven Dettelbach on the role of ATF in subverting Congressional authority through the rulemaking process of both the pistol brace rule and bump stock ban. We are currently waiting to see if the ATF’s bump stock ban will come before the Supreme Court. Our litigation strategy in the bump stock cases have been helpful in challenging the pistol brace rule as well.
4) Which piece of pending legislation related to the firearm industry is particularly important to you and why?
There are two specific bills in the House of Representatives I have cosponsored that are related to gun registry. I believe these are critical to ensuring 2nd Amendment rights are protected and that the government is not maintaining data for the purpose of restricting these rights. The two bills are:
H.R.1271 – The No Retaining Every Gun In a System That Restricts Your Rights Act (No REGISTRY Act). Based on the actions of the Biden administration, it is clear that they will use every possible loophole, rule or executive order at their disposal to keep law-abiding citizens from owning guns. The No REGISTRY Act will simply require the ATF to delete all existing firearms transaction records and require all federal firearms licensees (FFLs) to destroy their firearms transaction records if they go out of business – which is contrary to a 2022 rule issued by the Biden ATF that would force FFLs to maintain these records in perpetuity. Passing H.R. 1271 will protect the privacy of gun owners.
H.R. 3492 – The Gun-Owner Registration Information Protection Act (GRIP Act). Under current law the federal government may not store information acquired during the firearms background check process. This bill clarifies that prohibition and promotes consistency by extending the restriction to federal funding provided to states. Alarmingly, several state supreme courts have ruled that storing personal information related to gun ownership does not violate state law. Passing the GRIP Act will ensure that federal dollars do not support this data collection.
Also H.R. 4436: The Why Does the IRS Need Guns Act. The IRS has spent $35.2 million on guns, ammunition and equipment since 2006. Just recently across the border from my constituents in Montana, armed IRS and ATF agents raided a gun store, taking 4473 forms which include the personal information of lawful gun owners that do not pertain to the mission of the IRS. Since the IRS is increasingly weaponized against the American people, this legislation would prohibit the IRS from using funds for weapons and ammunition, transfer its current arsenal to the GSA for auction to licensed dealers and the public, and transfer the Criminal Investigations Division to the Department of Justice. This bill is critical to reduce duplication of government functions and to secure the rights of Americans against an increasingly abusive government agency.
5) What do you see as the challenges and opportunities for hunters and shooting sports enthusiasts?
There are a multitude of challenges that we must overcome to ensure that hunting and sport shooting will be enjoyed by future generations. First, we must protect access to lands currently used for recreation – hunting, fishing and shooting. The Bureau of Land Management has pushed for more restrictive usage under this administration – to include the ongoing attempt to ban some types of ammo from being used on federal lands, and restricting usage of some lands completely. Second, we cannot allow the right to gun ownership to be taken away. Our Constitutional rights are under constant attack these days, and surrendering any of those rights is not an option.
As Americans continue to see the decline of society and the increase in crime, support for the Second Amendment has never been higher. Across the nation people are realizing that it isn’t always possible for emergency vehicles to get to a scene in time to stop a home invasion or an assault, and that taking an active role in their own safety is important.
Our culture has been changing, with people spending more time recreating than in years past and more than previous generations, and many are turning to shooting sports and hunting as an opportunity to commune with nature, hone their skills and build camaraderie with like-minded sportsmen. Coming out of the COVID-19 situation, we are all more aware that it is important to have a variety of options for harvesting our own food, and that event spurred even more engagement in hunting and shooting sports. Various outlets have done a wonderful job of bolstering the voice of outdoorsmen through television channels, magazines and YouTube channels dedicated to the topic. With participation from both men and women on the rise in skeet shooting, clay target shooting and hunting, these activities and the industries that support them will continue to flourish. As I serve my state, I will do all that I can to ensure that the ability to keep and bear arms is not infringed.
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