Gun owners dodged a bullet—or at least a proposed ban on them—in August. The Environmental Protection Agency announced opening of public comments on a petition submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity, charging bullets and shot made of lead were environmental hazards, and seeking to forbid their use under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
Leading the mobilization to protest this scheme was the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).
“If the EPA approves the petition, the result will be a total ban on all ammunition containing lead-core components, including hunting and target-shooting rounds,” Senior Vice President/General Counsel Larry Keane warned on the NSSF blog, urging gun owners “to submit comment to the EPA opposing any ban on traditional ammunition.
“There is no scientific evidence that the use of traditional ammunition is having an adverse impact on wildlife populations,” Keane reminded readers.
The gun community was quick to make NSSF’s message go viral. Blogs and forums picked it up, directing activists to the EPA public comment website. Likewise, “gun lobby” groups reacted swiftly, alerting their members and urging action.
Key in this was a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson from NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action Executive Director Chris Cox, who reminded her that Congress had “explicitly excluded” ammunition from the TSCA.
“If EPA can regulate each individual component of ammunition,” Cox argued, “then EPA can effectively regulate shells and cartridges themselves.
“To interpret the exemption any other way would defeat a purpose well understood since 1976 and impute an absurd intention to Congress,” he concluded.
The uproar had the desired effect. Two days after the initial NSSF alert was issued, Fox News reported “The Environmental Protection Agency has denied a petition filed by environmental activists seeking to ban lead in ammunition, saying such regulation is beyond the agency’s authority.”
I would not be surprised if someone took Administrator Jackson aside, reminded her of the November elections and asked if she’d lost her mind.
Gun owners were jubilant. A seemingly easy victory had been won. Still, for some of us, there was a sense that this had been a known danger (see “Rights Watch” column “Getting the Lead Out” in the Sept. 2008 issue), and it should not have caught so many of us by surprise. After all, NSSF claimed Jackson “was responsible for banning bear hunting in New Jersey,” and yet she was confirmed by the Senate despite that established history. Supporting such candidates should always be graded as an anti-gun vote. We just can’t afford to let them slip under the radar.
And while we may have won a partial victory this time, this particular assault has not been completely repelled.
“Though the EPA has denied the petition… to ban traditional ammunition, it has maintained the petition to ban lead fishing tackle,” NSSF advised in an early September alert, “encouraging all sportsmen to oppose this ban.”
Agreed. Aside from it being the right thing to do, what better way to promote good will than to come to the aid of those in need, especially those who should be our natural allies?
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