More Lead Ban Efforts Are an Assault on Our Second Amendment Rights and Freedom to Hunt

by Larry S. Moore

More efforts are being aimed at eliminating lead - or are they simply aimed at our enjoyment of the shooting sports, fishing and outdoor recreation? Is the motivation behind the latest effort a real safety and environmental concern or is it a back-door attempt to ban firearms from our national parks? We saw efforts to roll back the right to carry in our national parks based on lead concerns immediately after the law went into effect. I'm saying it is yet another attempt to limit our freedom and right to carry.

The extremist Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency seeking to ban ammunition containing lead core components. A National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) alert states, "The National Shooting Sports Foundation encourages all gun owners, hunters and shooters to oppose the petition filed with the Environmental Protection Agency seeking to ban the use of traditional ammunition containing lead-core components. This ban would apply to ALL ammunition including ammunition used by target shooters."

The NSSF continues, "...the petition erroneously claims that the use of traditional ammunition poses a danger to (1) wildlife, in particular raptors such as bald eagles, that may feed on entrails or unrecovered game left in the field and (2) that there is a human health risk from consuming game harvested using traditional ammunition. Also falsely alleged in the petition is that the use of traditional ammunition by hunters is inconsistent with the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976. Congress expressly exempted ammunition from being regulated as a 'toxic substance.'"

Rob Sexton, the U.S. Sportsmen Alliance vice president for government affairs is quoted in a separate press release saying "It is important for everyone to remember that the engine that drives wildlife conservation is fueled by the dollars generated by the American sportsman. In fact, sportsmen contribute nearly every dime used for managing wildlife and habitat preservation from coast to coast. Given our history of over 100 years of successful wildlife conservation, you would in essence be killing the goose that laid the golden egg with this meat cleaver approach."

Montana, where much of the latest efforts were spawned after lead was supposedly found in donated venison, is at the center of some efforts. The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission is taking up the issue of banning lead in state owned wildlife management areas. The Raptor View Research Institute has submitted data involving Golden Eagles ingesting lead. Texas is also looking at the lead issue left in fields after dove hunting.

Much of the argument for and against this has been put forth previously. There was a group that supposedly found lead in donated venison in Montana.

I didn't believe the reports at the time and suggested that perhaps the lead was intentionally planted so it would be ground and dispersed throughout the meat at the time of processing. Over the last 25 or so years, I've been blessed to kill deer, often several per year. I've taken deer with muzzleloader, shotgun, rifle and handgun. I've used bullets from lead round balls, traditional deer slugs and jacketed bullets sometimes in sabot rounds for shotgun or muzzleloader or in both the rifle and handgun. I've seen bullets deform, split and sometimes fragment. However, I've never found fragments very far from the initial wound channel. We are careful and thorough when butchering to examine the meat around the entry point and wound channels. We've never found lead remains in our venison. I'm much more likely to find a piece of lead shot remaining in the small game I take than in venison. Traditional muzzleloader round balls and shotgun slugs tend to fragment less due to lower velocity than center fire rifle bullets. For those who are interested, Barnes hunting bullets are the only ones of which I am aware that are lead free and offers outstanding terminal performance.

Based on limited personal experience, I remain highly skeptical. I've shot trap for many years. When I was shooting a lot I might reload upwards of 7,500 shotgun shells per year. My physical check-ups include a check for lead. I have none. I use basic good hygiene to wash my hands after handling lead and before doing anything else. I also keep the reloading bench clean. I do not, however, use latex gloves or a face mask.

I was involved with a trap range that recently performed their first lead recovery efforts. Most of the lead was near the surface less than a foot deep. Because of the soil here the lead shot was still in very good condition. Following recovery of the lead, a small drainage ditch was altered with tiling installed. The drainage ditch feeds to the club's 7-acre pond. Tests were performed along the creek and in the pond for lead contamination. No problems were found in the private testing. This is after nearly 50-years of trap shooting at the club with no previous recovery or management efforts.

The NSSF is right-on in their call to action by all gun owners. This ban will affect law enforcement agencies and recreational target shooters from the competition level to the occasional plinker and hunters.

In the alert, the NSSF urges you to stress the following in your opposition:

–There is no scientific evidence that the use of traditional ammunition is having an adverse impact on wildlife populations that would require restricting or banning the use of traditional ammunition beyond current limitations, such as the scientifically based restriction on waterfowl hunting.

–Recent statistics from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service show that from 1981 to 2006 the number of breeding pairs of bald eagles in the United States increased 724 percent. And much like the bald eagle, raptor populations throughout the United States are increasing dramatically.

–A ban on traditional ammunition would have a serious negative impact on wildlife conservation. The federal excise tax that manufacturers pay on the sale of the ammunition (11 percent) is a primary source of wildlife conservation funding. The bald eagle’s recovery, considered to be a great conservation success story, was made possible and funded by hunters using traditional ammunition – the very ammunition organizations like the CBD are now demonizing.

Outdoor writer and hunter education instructor Larry S. Moore is a long-time volunteer leader for Buckeye Firearms Association and winner of the 2005 USSA Patriot Award and 2007 League of Ohio Sportsmen/Ohio Wildlife Federation Hunter Educator of the Year. Mr. Moore also serves as Greene County Republican Central Committee Member.

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