By Dean Weingarten
Arizona - -(Ammoland.com)- The good news: the ban does not extend to ammunition used for target shooting.
The bad news: It extends to more than traditional hunting. The bill applies to the taking of all wildlife.
From the bill:
(b) Except as provided in subdivision (j), and as soon as is practicable as implemented by the commission pursuant to subdivision (i), but by no later than July 1, 2019, nonlead ammunition, as determined by the commission, shall be required when taking all wildlife, including game mammals, game birds, nongame birds, and nongame mammals, with any firearm.
There is no exemption for self defense, protection of crops, elimination of pests or any other “taking of wildlife” that firearms are traditionally used for. If a person shoots a rabid coyote in their yard, or crows that are eating all the seed in the field that they just planted, they had better not be using traditional ammunition in their firearm, or they will be subject to the penalties specified in the bill.
Did you notice that the bill established a commission to certify ammunition that is approved as non-lead? Only certified ammunition will be legal for the taking of wildlife with a firearm. The legislature could have simply made lead projectiles illegal for hunting with firearms. The market would have produced non-lead ammunition in response to demand. The creation of a commission that has to certify non-lead ammunition is just another expensive hoop that manufacturers will have to jump through. It is an impediment to legal hunting and ammunition innovation, and is a waste of taxpayer dollars.
This is the type of legislation that statists seem to love. It inverts the traditional approach to the law. The traditional approach is that everything is legal unless it is prohibited. The statist approach is that nothing is legal unless it is approved.
Government officials and their agents are exempted. The bill tells us that using lead ammunition to take wildlife is bad. Really bad. Then it says it is only bad if done by people who are not government agents, so there is no problem for government hunters to take game with lead ammunition. Why? Because “Shut up”!
There is a laughable provision in the bill that allows people to use lead ammunition in calibers for which no non-lead ammunition has been certified.
The exemption only applies if non-lead ammunition is not available because of a federal ban on armor piercing ammunition, and then only if the director certifies that it is so. My political sense says that provision will never be used while there is Democrat control of California.
The bill only applies to firearms, but what is a firearm by legal definition in California? There are often several different definitions in a body of law, some of which may apply in some areas, but not in others. Here is what I found, but I am not a lawyer, so there may be other definitions that apply for the taking of wildlife.
It is clear that airguns are not firearms. I expect that airguns will become more popular and that bills will be introduced to define them as firearms.
Muzzleloaders appear to be in an ambiguous area. I expect that there will be considerable lobbying for the commission to certify non-lead projectiles as ammunition. This would allow them to be used in muzzle-loaders and by reloaders.
Fines are rather high for the nebulous and highly controversial amount of “damage” done. $500 for the first offense, $1,000 – $5,000 for later offences.
The bill contains a provision for coupons to be sent to people with “permits” for hunting to offset the cost of non-lead ammunition. It is only to go into effect if funding is available. As California is broke, I expect that it is another dead letter.
This legislation will reduce the number of hunters in California, as those with marginal motivations will be deterred by the expense and additional legal risk.
Poaching will likely increase.
Those who are cynical will say that was the real goal of this legislation. I would argue that ignorance and stupidity can easily be mistaken for malice. Then again, those motivations and explanations are not mutually exclusive.
c2013 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
About Dean Weingarten;
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.