New York Times Traditional Ammo Reporting Hits Left of Center

by Larry Keane

by Larry Keane, New York Times Traditional Ammo Reporting Hits Left of Center
New York Times Traditional Ammo Reporting Hits Left of Center

U.S.A.-( I just knew it was too good to be true. Splashed across the New York Times this weekend was a feature article that showed respectful and even positive imagery of a hunter harvesting an elk.

I know. I thought the same thing. New York Times? Really? I couldn’t believe it, that was, until I saw the headline that read: Poisoned Wildlife and Tainted Meat: Why Hunters Are Moving Away From Lead Bullets.

Dutifully, I read it, trying to keep an open mind. I also read the sidebar: A Vegetarian Reporter Explores a Hunting Dilemma.

I should have expected it. A confessed cheating-and-meat-eating vegetarian author took to the field to get an understanding of why hunters aren’t opting to forego traditional ammunition that’s been used to harvest wild game for centuries and would dare to consume that food. In all fairness, I applaud Ian Urbina for going afield. He treated hunting with due respect. He didn’t portray taking wild game as savage and gave true understanding to the importance many of us place on taking responsibility for providing the food we feed to our families. He even gave credence to the ethics hunters place on ensuring responsible harvests.

New York Times Traditional Ammo Reporting Hits Left of Center
Poisoned Wildlife and Tainted Meat: Why Hunters Are Moving Away From Lead Bullets

Facts are Stubborn Things

Still, the article cherry-picked the points to deliver a predetermined conclusion. Urbina, and the New York Times, is misrepresenting the facts when it comes to the safety of wild game taken and consumed with traditional ammunition.

It’s not just generations of anecdotal evidence. The Centers for Disease Control studied it in 2008 in North Dakota. The results might be enlightening to those in Manhattan. Those individuals who consumed wild game taken with traditional ammunition actually had lower levels of lead present in their blood samples than that of the general population.

Urbina did address the concerns we share when calls arise for outdoorsmen and women to abandon traditional ammunition. Hunters should have the choice of the ammunition they shoot. The cost, as Californians are learning, is prohibitive for many. The industry offers alternative ammunition options. Demand for these alternatives is low, just one percent of the entire ammunition market because of the associated production cost that is passed on. For many hunters and recreational shooters, that increased cost could translate to reduced range time or worse, giving up their hunting traditions.

Cheap Shots

Urbina mentions, albeit briefly, that the Obama administration attempted a ban on traditional ammunition on all federal lands on the last full day in office. NSSF was a leading voice calling for this to be repealed because it lacked any scientific input, stakeholder comment or peer review. It was such a naked political power grab, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform excoriated the move after their own investigation. On his first day in office, Secretary of the Department of the Interior Ryan Zinke signed an order ending the wrongful policy.

Know the Players

Many times, these calls for ending the use of traditional ammunition is a thinly-veiled attempt to splinter off groups of hunters, pitting one side of our family against the other. They use disturbing images of bald eagles that have ingested lead, insisting they were victim of eating lead fragments from gut piles left by hunters. These are backed by radical anti-hunting groups such as the Centers for Biological Diversity and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). They focus intently on the cases of sick eagles in rescue centers but ignore that bald eagles are at the healthiest population levels ever.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates there are 10,000 nesting pairs of bald eagles in the lower 48 states allowing federal authorities to take bald eagles off the endangered species list in 1995 and the threatened species list in 2007. The successful recovery of the bald eagle is due to dollars raised through the Pittman-Robertson excise tax on firearms and ammunition products hunters buy that funds wildlife conservation across the United States – over $12 billion since 1937.

No one believes for a minute that any of that anti-hunting groups, like PETA or HSUS, would be supportive of hunting under any circumstances. We see again, unfortunately, that the New York Times is still shooting left of center when it comes to delivering the truth on traditional ammunition.


The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 11,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers. For more information, visit

  • 26 thoughts on “New York Times Traditional Ammo Reporting Hits Left of Center

    1. The point the NY times article was making was about lead ammo’s effect on the environment, not the people consuming the food. There is empiracle evidence that animals that consume hunters’ leftovers in the field have more lead in there systems, eg, the California condor. Furthermore the article portrays us hunters in the honest and favorable light of people who respect our quarry and the environment in which we hunt. This is an example of a left-leaning publication doing their part to find common ground on which to help close a gap that is growing at an alarming rate in this country. Please take it for what it is: a compliment and an olive branch.

      1. A compliment and an olive branch from the NY Times?C’mon!I refuse to believe a hunter and gun owner in this day and age is truly that naïve.

    2. First of all, not all and I fact very few, on the left are as anti-gun or anti-ar as you all portray. If anything is ‘Fake News’ it’s all this division about guns between the left and the right.

      I am a progressive and as a progressive I think it is absolutely valid to look into lead ammo and what it is doing to our environment as well as us as we consume it. It has been known to be very bad for us in many other areas, like paint.

      Also, as far as costs……think about how Capitalism works and supply. If lead was banned more non-lead ammo would be produced because demand would go way up, also increasing production. This would significantly bring down the price of non-lead ammo.

      We only have one planet to live on. So we should always put the environment first.

      1. @Shad, You are, of course, aware that lead occurs naturally in our environment. And if you are consuming lead then you need to clean your pheasants more thoroughly.
        Typical socialist seeking to impose his views on everyone else.

    3. If lead bullets were poisoning people then our ancestors up until the advent of the jacketed bullet, would never have survived as all they had, shot and the meat they lived on involved pure lead.

    4. I couldn’t agree more with Marc A.; we (hunters and gun owners across the board) ate too paranoid these days. I mean hell– many of us actually believe that a right enshrined in the Constitution is under threat because a few whiny libs with dead kids support the idea of more sensible regulations surrounding firearm(ha! One less of THEM even if it’s one less American too! I think these school shootings fall under the category of an Act of God– And God is righteous, amen, am I right?) I mean “background checks” are obviously just a back door to outright banning and seizure of our guns. My neighbor is schizophrenic and I trust him to have guns more than any commie lib even though he just left a note on my door telling me my cat comes over and leans into his window to tell him it’s time to murder his children. He wants me to get its vocal cords removed, and I just might do it because I’ve never known a talking cat to be anything but pure evil.

    5. This lead bullet ban is just another back door approach to gun control. There’s some calibers that can not take longer bullets that would be needed to make up for the loss of weight in a lead core bullet. The gun grabbing commies will keep on using new ways to achieve their ultimate goal of a complete weapons ban.

    6. As a kid for 6 years I shot a pellet gun and carried the pellets in my mouth for easy reloading. I’m 60 now and have no memory of I’ll effects. I used to collect the Mercury from the glass blisters in floater switches and play with it on my bare hands for years and have no recollection of poisoning. In my childhood there was asbestos in every house, from water tanks to patio covers, and haven’t had respiratory pathology. Actually swimming every day affected my sinuses, but even then I wonder if it was the chlorine or genetics.
      I think we are too paranoid these days.

      1. Bullseye my friend, these days everyone who gets a headache has some new affliction that they believe requires a doctor and pharmaceuticals. People get a sore throat or sinus issues then they immediately run to their doc wanting a miracle cure. I was born in 1966 and have never had the flu or even a cold. No fonder the Big Pharma is a multi billion dollar industry. People just aren’t as tough as they used to be. Semper Fi.

      2. “As a kid for 6 years I shot a pellet gun and carried the pellets in my mouth for easy reloading. I’m 60 now and have NO MEMORIE OF I’ll effects. I used to collect the Mercury from the glass blisters in floater switches and play with it on my bare hands for years and have NO RECOLLECTION OF poisoning.”

        I bet you don’t, LOL, OMG, your killing me. LOL, yep it had no effect on you at all did it, LOL. OMG, I’m crying hear. Thank you for the laughs.

        1. Gee william; TOO BAD you don’t remember your mother dropping you on your head multiple times.
          Have you quit beating your wife?

        2. William, clearly something has affected your ability to use proper spelling and grammatical punctuation. You should take a look in the mirror before you make a pathetic attempt to mock someone else.

    7. The study you mentioned should not be used for the purpose of comparing lead levels. It has no evidence to dispute or prove higher lead blood count due to eating meat harvested with lead bullets. It compared a group of people who don’t eat game meat with those who do. It did not compare to those who eat game meat harvested with alternative ammunition. The problem is that the study collorelates game meat with lower lead levels and collorelation does not mean that it is the cause.

      You can list many factors that could be the actual cause of higher lead levels, like more processed foods, environmental factors, pollution, etc. Until you compare blood levels between lead harvested game and non-lead harvested game, the study is misleading and doesn’t provide any information relevant to the actual question of, how safe or dangerous are lead bullets for hunting game? After all, a reduction in lead for your family is a good thing, even if you are below the majority of the population. It’s nasty stuff.

      On a different topic, you neglected to compare the performance of lead to alternative bullets, choosing to focus on attacking the article based on who the author and audience was intended to be. Regardless if the article has an ulterior motive or used poor logic to reach their conclusion, it is worth noting that copper bullets are very effective in taking game. The reduced tendency to shed a lead core and maintain mass during expansion and penetration makes a bullet of equivalent grain weight perform as well or better than traditional lead ammo. So, if you have a bullet that can help harvest game better and poses less risk of lead, why is encouraging a switch a bad thing? This isn’t a situation where the alternatives are not equal to the task at hand or cause a performance drop. Copper bullets have been used since the 80s, mostly due to the shortcomings of bi-metal bullets.

      As a final thought, I do want to mention that I believe lead bullets have their place in the shooting world. They are effective and cheap for practice, self defense, and law enforcement/military purposes. Banning lead bullets entirely would be a mistake. It would cause a lot of people, myself included, to stop enjoying the sport as the price to shoot frequently would be much too high.

      1. The author is correct in his focus on the fact that the war on traditional hunting bullets is a backdoor war on the 2nd amendment. I choose to use non lead bullets for some applications but am against any law mandating it. I find it laughable to propose that traditional big game bullets increase lead levels in other living organisms.

    8. “Health reasons” is just a front….a weak excuse to try and get lead ammunition banned. Because lead ammo makes up about 99% of all ammunition sold in America. The goal behind this fraudulent effort is the same goal behind EVERY law regarding firearms an ammo offered up……disarmament. The goal of the left…and quite a few on the right is the complete ban on firearms and ammo in the hands of the “we the people”. Those in power seek to RULE US….with impunity. A tough thing to do when your intended slaves can fight back. Thus the ongoing never ending push to disarm us using any and every tactic that can be dreamed up.

    9. Those same animal rights groups don’t care about the thousands of birds of pretty that are killed by wind farms every year. I’m sure those deaths far out number the deaths from lead posioning.

      1. That comparison is unfair. Wind farms kill way too many birds every year and is a big problem, but their impact pales in comparison to the environmental impact of fossil fuel production and use. Why are so many of us hunters not environmentalists? I grew up hunting and fishing in Texas and Louisiana and was taught that conservation was imperative to the continuation of the sportsman’s life.
        I shoot lead at the range (cause I’m not rich) and they have procedures to dispose of it. When hunting, I use copper for its effectiveness and the fact that I don’t want my toddler possibly ingesting any lead. Copper is expensive, but if you can’t afford the rounds for hunting, you should try and put some time in at the range and shoot less bullets. Why is it so bad to want to protect the environment?

    10. Thank you, Larry Keane and Ammo Land! It is articles like this that we pro 2A-ers need DESPERATELY in order to maintain our most important civil right!

    11. Omitted is the fact that some nonlead bullets are threatened with ban as “armor piercing” by legislation proposed by gun control groups to expand the current Federal bans on some handgun bullet materials.

    12. The picture that they chose contradicts one of the lefts favorite talking points. They regularly try to push the idea that ‘nobody’ hunts with AR-10s or AR-15s, but that’s what the hunter in the picture is using.

    Comments are closed.