by Mark Chesnut - Monday, June 13, 2022
In recent weeks we’ve detailed how both Congress and the Biden-led U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have launched an all-out assault on the use of common lead ammunition for hunters and shooters on some federally managed lands. Now the situation has become much more dire.
On June 9, the USFWS published a proposed rule in the Federal Register that includes a widespread ban on ammunition made with lead components. According to a news release issued by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the firearm industry trade association, the proposed rule would “improperly trade access to public lands in an exchange for a ban on traditional ammunition made with lead components, which has no scientific basis and would disenfranchise the outdoorsmen and women who support and fund conservation.”
The lead ban was slipped into the USFWS’s new proposed hunting and fishing opportunities for game species at 19 national wildlife refuges covering some 54,000 acres. It calls for a phased ban of traditional ammunition by 2026. A press release on the USFWS website indicates that this measure is based on the best scientific data available. However, no data indicates that traditional ammunition is causing population declines of any wildlife species at any of the refuges.
As the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) notes on its website, “Anti-hunting and anti-gun extremists ignore the science and misinform policy makers and the public on the effects of extremely small amounts of lead.” Many of them purposely argue that alternative ammunition is cheap and readily available, but this is not true.
“In truth, these extremists want lead ammunition banned because it discourages participation in hunting and shooting,” NRA-ILA wrote. “Traditional ammunition is significantly cheaper than its alternatives. Increasing the price of ammunition will only ensure lower income hunters likely won’t be able to provide food for their families.”
In addition, the article noted how alternatives to lead ammunition can be less lethal—and, therefore, less ethical for hunting—and generally are not better for the environment. Make no mistake: The ultimate goal is to end hunting, and this is a first step.
For proof, look no further than the animal rights extremist group Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), which filed a petition with the Department of the Interior just a day before the USFWS’ proposed rule was published. The group called for a Director’s Order requiring the phase-out of traditional ammunition on the entire National Wildlife Refuge System and pushing for formal rulemaking to phase out traditional ammunition by Sept. 30, 2024. The move was interesting timing, indeed, raising questions about whether it was filed to coincide with the USFWS announcement.
It is important to note that the proposed lead ban would also affect lead fishing tackle, putting about 60 million U.S. anglers squarely in USFWS’s sights along with hunters and shooters. The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) finds that highly objectionable.
“The sportfishing industry usually welcomes the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s periodic announcements to expand fishing access in National Wildlife Refuges, but this new proposed expansion comes with a significant caveat that undermines the good will these announcements usually generate,” the ASA said in a statement after the proposed rule was published. “The entire foundation of USFWS and its management of our fish and wildlife resources is meant to be based on specific data and science, yet the proposed rule would arbitrarily ban lead fishing tackle in several refuges based on unfounded and overgeneralized assumptions.”
All hunters, shooters, anglers and other interested parties who want to take action and voice their concerns with the proposed rule before the Aug. 8 deadline can submit comments to the Federal Register website by clicking here.
About the Author
Freelance writer Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC in Jenks, Okla. An avid hunter, shooter and field-trialer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for over 20 years, previously serving as editor of the NRA’s America’s First Freedom.
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