FAIRFAX, Va. –-(Ammoland.com)- The Center for Biological Diversity’s (CBD) recent editorial in AmmoLand entitled “Toxic Lead in Hunting Ammunition: The Time Has Come to Phase It Out” articulates the public agenda of certain self-proclaimed environmental groups seeking to advance their nationwide campaign against lead ammunition.
What it does not articulate however, is their hidden agenda against civilian self-defense gun ownership, and their desire to restrict or eliminate hunting and recreational shooting.
CBD is leading the charge of neo-enviro groups calling for a ban on lead ammunition. These groups claim that metallic lead fragments from hunters’ ammunition in gut piles and carcasses of game left in the field by hunters are poisoning scavenging wildlife. Using faulty science purporting to link lead ammunition with lead poisoning of wildlife, these neo-enviro groups want the public to accept their claims on faith. They have gone out of their way to try to frustrate efforts by NRA researchers to obtain the data they use to support their taxpayer funded “science” so that their findings cannot be critiqued. In spite of this resistance, NRA researchers have gotten enough information to expose bias and serious flaws in the “science” they use to justify their efforts.
A Broken Promise
CBD offers up the legislatively imposed lead ammunition ban in the California condor zone as the model for banning the use of lead ammunition by hunters everywhere. California’s hastily enacted ban on hunters’ lead ammunition, Assembly Bill 821 (AB821), was passed by the California Legislature in 2007 after the then California Fish and Game Commission declined to act without more scientific evidence. The non-scientist politicians were more receptive to the enviro’s political clout, and passed the law based on assurances that the California condor would recover from its lead poisoning problem, if only the use of lead ammunition was banned for hunting in the condor zone.
It hasn’t worked. Hunters being a law abiding bunch, the California Department of Fish & Game confirmed that hunter compliance with the AB821 lead ban is over 99%. But a comparison of pre-ban and post-ban condor blood-lead data, obtained through hard fought public records requests, shows that contrary to the lead ban proponents’ assurances, the incidence of lead exposure and poisoning in condors has not gone down since the ban took effect. In fact, the blood-lead levels remain mostly static, and in some condors blood-lead levels have actually increased!
Compounding the problem, multiple condors have died from lead poisoning since AB821 went into effect. These facts strongly point to an alternative source of lead in the environment, other than lead ammunition, that is poisoning condors.
Soluble Lead Sources Abound
CBD and the lead ban proponents stubbornly ignore the alternative sources of lead in the environment. So, we told them the ban wouldn't work. It hasn't And now, as is typical when a gun-control proposal fails, rather than look for other causes of lead exposure, they expand the failed ban.
With the alleged connection between lead based ammunition and the lead poisoning levels unestablished, and blood-lead levels still problematic despite the AB821 lead ammunition ban, there is strong evidence that lead poisoning of condors is not due to lead ammunition, but is instead due to certain forms of industrial lead compounds commonly found in the environment.
And in fact, the type of lead in these alternative sources is far more toxic than the type of lead in bullets. Legacy leaded gasoline, paint and pesticides contain a completely different form of lead than that contained in lead ammunition. The lead compounds in gasoline, paint and pesticides are typically very soluble in biological systems. These lead compounds are very toxic because they can be readily digested, absorbed through the skin, or inhaled. The lead in ammunition is very different. The lead in ammunition is in a highly inert metallic form, which is not readily soluble in the stomach and cannot be absorbed through the skin or inhaled. In comparison, soluble forms of lead are readily absorbed into the bloodstream from the stomach, and can quickly cause lead poisoning. Because metallic lead is not appreciably soluble in the digestive tract of scavengers, lead ammunition is unlikely to result in lead poisoning of condors and other scavengers under natural feeding conditions in the wild.
But CBD’s arguments confuse metallic lead in ammunition with soluble and highly toxic forms of compounded lead found in certain products, such as gasoline, paint and pesticides.
CBD’s often repeated statement that (soluble) lead has been removed from gasoline, paint, pesticides and other commonly used products deliberately confuses people about the environmental impacts associated with metallic lead ammunition.
Ends-Driven Secret Research Results Prove Nothing
Researchers have been embroiled in lawsuits for withholding the original data that purports to prove the results of their published studies. Despite the resistance to disclosing the data used in these taxpayer funded studies to the public, NRA researchers have procured enough information to show that many of the studies used to justify lead ammunition bans are scientifically unsound. Researchers who have published some of these papers condemning lead ammunition have used flawed methodology, questionable sampling sizes, and have ignored data contrary to their pre-conceived conclusions. These researchers also ignored evidence of alternative sources of lead as a cause of lead poisoning. Several of the key studies that profess to link lead ammunition to lead poisoning or mortality in wildlife have been criticized by scientists. More on this is available at [www.huntfortruth.org].
So while wildlife continues to experience lead poisoning, the anti-lead ammunition proponents use their members’ money to vilify hunters instead of looking for other sources of lead in the environment, meanwhile allowing the lead poisoning to continue.
A Hasty Jump to Alternative Metal Ammunition
CBD claims there are proven and effective alternatives to lead ammunition. Even with many types of alternative metals ammunition now available, some “environmentalists” are already raising concerns about the impact that these metals have on the environment. For example, they claim that tungsten, previously a top candidate for a lead alternative, has been shown to be a carcinogen. Even copper has been shown to be toxic under certain circumstances. They also warn that many of these alternative metals have unknown effects upon wildlife, and may cause many new problems if lead was no longer available.
Lead Ammunition Poses No Risk to Humans
CBD resorts to scare tactics in claiming that lead ammunition can harm humans because of a risk of lead exposure to hunters who consume game meat. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation has issued a statement saying that “there are no reported human illnesses related to the consumption of wild game shot with lead ammunition.” [http://www.dec.ny.gov/
The Ever-Expanding Lead Ammunition Ban
CBD is no longer content with state level lead ammunition bans. It now wants a nationwide ban on lead ammunition for whatever purpose. And it is litigating for just that. CBD has sued the EPA to force it to enact a lead ammunition ban via the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Faced with the failure of the ban on lead ammunition used for hunting in the California condor zones, CBD now claims that we must get lead out of the environment by banning lead in all ammunition, not just hunting ammunition.
CBD would have the public falsely believe that the NRA attempted to implement a new ammunition ban exemption in the recent Sportsmen’s Bill (S3525). But, the bill’s language actually only clarifies that ammunition was already exempted from the provisions of TSCA when that law was first enacted years ago. TSCA, section 3(2)(B)(v), precludes the EPA from regulating ammunition. Even the EPA, in rejecting CBD’s recent petition to force it to ban lead ammunition, said that it does not have the authority to regulate ammunition under TSCA.
The Underlying Anti-Gun Agenda Finally Revealed
CBD’s recent anti-gun, anti-NRA fundraising campaign contradicts its January 25 AmmoLand article, and masks part of the group’s real agenda; eliminating self-defense firearms. CBD finally confessed its anti-Second Amendment agenda in recent email solicitations calling for gun bans. The motive was long suspected by gun-rights groups, and CBD has finally admitted its true intentions. It ran a full page ad on December 21, 2012 challenging the NRA and imploring the public to petition the President to oppose the NRA’s protection of Second Amendment rights. View the CBD website found here http://www.nrahostage.com/
Hunters Are the True Conservationists
The real story is that hunters, recreational shooters and affiliated organizations like the NRA contribute billions of dollars annually throughout the country to conservation programs that enhance and preserve our environment. Sportsmen contribute nearly eight million dollars a day and approximately three billion dollars a year for conservation. This funding represents, on average, nearly half of every state’s fish and wildlife agency funding. The licensing fees and other charges to hunters support wildlife management and restoration, habitat improvement and general conservation efforts. Collectively, hunters and anglers provide more than 75% of the annual funds for all fifty state conservation agencies. [http://www.nssf.org/PDF/
CBD’s claim that some of its best members are hunters is a disingenuous cover for the agenda it has been spreading for years, and emboldens its recent foray into anti-Second Amendment rhetoric.
The truth is that the real conservationists are sportsmen and women who want to preserve the environment and wildlife while also protecting America’s traditional hunting heritage.
Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America's oldest civil rights and sportsmen's group. Four million members strong, NRA continues its mission to uphold Second Amendment rights and to advocate enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime. The Association remains the nation's leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the military. Visit: www.nra.org