by Mark Chesnut - Thursday, June 9, 2022
The war against hunters and shooters who choose to use lead ammunition on federally managed lands is heating up.
Hot on the heels of a U.S. Senate bill that would ban the use of traditional lead ammunition on federal public lands managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the USFWS itself is now pushing for a rule to ban lead ammo on at least five national wildlife refuges in three states. The news was posted in an alert from Safari Club International (SCI), which, along with the NRA and other hunter-backed groups, is monitoring the issue on behalf of hunters.
As the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) noted in a 2021 article on NRAILA.org explaining the lead ammo issue, “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, it 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.
The latest move on the part of USFWS comes less than a month after U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) introduced Senate Bill 4157. The measure seeks to ban the use of lead ammo in 568 national wildlife refuges, encompassing more than 150 million acres of land and water.
Senate Bill 4157 would require the Secretary of the Interior (SOI), acting through the director of the USFWS, “to promulgate regulations prohibiting the use of lead ammunition on all land and water under the jurisdiction and control of the USFWS, and other for purposes.” The bill asserts that not only can lead harm wildlife, but that “lead ammunition endangers human food supplies … and spent lead ammunition can also contaminate crops, vegetation and waterways; [and that] humans are at risk of lead toxicosis through the consumption of game meat harvested with lead ammunition … .”
NRA-ILA has long been fighting against sweeping lead ammunition bans. Worth repeating, it champions decisions based on actual scientific evidence, which shows that traditional ammunition does not pose a significant population-level risk. The real goal is to attack America’s hunting heritage.
In fighting for hunters, NRA-ILA has been embroiled in this issue for years. Many will recall the Obama administration’s last-minute blow to sportsmen in January 2017 when outgoing SOI Dan Ashe banned the use of all lead ammunition and fishing tackle on national wildlife refuges by 2022. NRA-ILA noted how the Obama administration had acted without ever consulting with state fish and wildlife agencies or national angling and hunting and wildlife conservation organizations. Of course, making science-based decisions was never the goal. The NRA and other groups rallied and in March 2017 the new Trump administration put SOI Ryan Zinke in charge, who began his first day on the job by issuing a secretarial order to overturn Ashe’s unilateral overreach.
This NRA website will continue to monitor these measures and proposals as they progress to keep readers updated on this issue.
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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