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Lead Meme Again

Probably one of the single biggest threats to gun rights is the attempts to ban lead ammunition over environmental concerns. Since Newtown, the issue has been relatively quiet, but now the meme flies again here, and again here. It’s also being picked up by the regular media.

This is one of the biggest threats to the shooting sports, and gun rights in general, because they have a reason to essentially ban affordable ammunition for a reason that isn’t merely a desire to eliminate civilian gun possession. Additionally, again, it’s an issue where even a lot of gun owners aren’t going to understand the issues involved, especially when our opponents are lying about the alternatives being cheap, easy, and perform the same.

Most ranges these days are doing some level of lead reclamation. The mechanics of reclaiming lead aren’t complicated, and the economics favor doing it, given the high cost of copper and lead these days. But I believe it’s going to be a difficult issue over time. In this issue we face a trifecta of anti-hunting groups, anti-gun groups, and greens. We face the fact that hunters, generally speaking, can be incredibly self-destructive and quite vulnerable to divide and conquer tactics.

Especially since gun control has been failing, when pushed through traditional methods, I expect the lead issue to become a serious push moving forward. This all started because California Condors were showing up with lead poisoning, which wildlife advocates quickly blamed on lead ammunition fragments being eaten from carrion that had been shot and gutted by hunters. California moved to ban all lead ammunition from condor territory. Now they are moving to ban all lead ammunition in hunting anywhere in California.  A key thing to watch is whether lead poisoning among condor populations drops. So far, the ban has not reduced incidences of lead poisoning in condors. Nonetheless, the proffered explanation is the ban does not go far enough. Tell me if you’ve heard this one before?

14 Responses to “Lead Meme Again”

  1. The Noob says:

    Fun Fact: by law, the EPA is not allowed to consider economic impact in their decisions.

  2. Rob Crawford says:

    Ban condors from eating lead.

  3. Andy B. says:

    “A key thing to watch is whether lead poisoning among condor populations drops.”

    Maybe a better question will be, if the supposed harmful effects of lead on condors seem to decline.

    You may recall that in the ’70s there was a schedule for removing lead compounds from gasoline. It was accelerated and all lead was banned from gasoline sometime in the early ’80s.

    That had to be one of the greatest environmental achievements in history. Many/most of my past industrial clients were in a lead-related industry. The lead-levels in the average American’s blood dropped so dramatically after lead was removed from gasoline, that what used to be the safe, average, typical level of the man on the street, will now get you pulled off a lead manufacturing line for excess exposure.

    But I have never heard that great success crowed about by the environmental movement. My theory is that the original motive for removing lead from the environment was, the great harm and danger to health that it caused. For example, I remember atmospheric lead from gasoline being blamed for learning disabilities in urban children. But once it was successfully removed or reduced drastically, I haven’t heard that any health benefits have accrued. So, the entire motivation for the program would appear suspect.

    (Please, no one assume I am saying lead poisoning is not a real problem. I’ve known of lots of examples of it, mainly from exposure to chemical lead in residues from lead paint or lead-acid batteries. I am just speculating that a great deal of the environmental hazards, i.e., “dangerous” levels in the environment, may have been severely over-estimated.)

  4. Mike Gordon says:

    Hunters in California ought to return the favor by killing every condor they ever run across, that is if they actually ever do see a condor.

  5. TS says:

    If something doesn’t work, do it harder. Classic gun control. They banned lead hunting in condor territory 16 years ago, and lead poisoning hasn’t improved. Obviously they need to ban lead in places where condors aren’t. Must be the “lead pipeline”, where turkey vultures smuggle leaded carrion into banned condor territory, so they can feed on that sweet, sweet, pb.

  6. Ursa Ele says:

    It is not the liberals pushing for lead ammo bans that we will have to worry the most about. We will have to worry about the gun guys who push this. Not the dumb hunter elmer fudd’s who are easily misled and misinformed and too willing to sell us out. We have to worry about the Operators. The Top Shots. The big time gun enthusiasts who run the big shooting schools and the big time competitors. It is our own “leaders” who will sell us out on this issue. You already have a significant number of top schools that insist on students using lead free ammo because they don’t want the instructors to be constantly exposed to lead and they don’t want their facilities being contaminated with lead. The people who are shooting all day, every day for a living are going to be the ones pushing this. Next, the Federal Government will come up with a “voluntary” program that gives money to private clubs and gun ranges for “range maintenance” if they ban the use of lead projectiles and primers, and then there will be “environmental taxes” for those ranges that do not join the voluntary program. So, the clubs and ranges will all jump on board. But it is not the clubs that will push for it. It is the top shooters and the big name instructors who will push this down our throats. Ask your favorite instructor sometime when no one else is within earshot, and tell him/her it is “off the record” and see what they tell you. They all want this. They are all being constantly exposed to lead as part of their jobs, and they all want the government to ban lead in ammo. They will not say it loudly, in public, YET, but they will tell you privately that it is “for everyone’s benefit to do this” etc.

  7. Andy B. says:

    I sometimes wish I’d kept a diary of some of these things so I could cite them more specifically, later, but I remember when the .17 HRM first came out, the glowing promotional article in the American Rifleman included as an advantage and feature of the little cartridge that we would be “introducing less toxic lead into the environment.” I wrote a polite letter-to-the-editor pointing out how counterproductive to our cause such a statement could be, but it was neither printed nor acknowledged in any way.

  8. Zermoid says:

    What I don’t get is this, lead is a naturally occurring substance, it’s not something man made, so whether we use lead in bullets or not there is still going to be alot of lead in nature anyways, right?

    We take lead from the earth, make it into bullets, and fire it out of a gun, that bullet eventually strikes the earth there fore returning it to the earth. Sometime later we dig it up again and start over.
    Is this not a perfect example of re-cycling?

    • Andy B. says:

      First let me say I’m on our side of course, and I agree with you that metallic lead distributed broadly in the environment (hunters’ bullets, fishermen’s lost sinker) is a non-problem. However, concentrations of metallic lead, like lead in backstops that have been used for years, or trap ranges fired over for many years, can have literally scores of tons of lead concentrated in a very small area. If you are talking about, say, fine shot on a trap range, tons of it can add up to a large surface area of lead in a fairly small area of ground. Now, throw in a wet and acidic environment, and it is possible to produce excessively high lead levels in the underground water table. (The definition of “excessive” is probably worth quibbling over, but I don’t know enough to do that.)

      Even nature itself produces concentrations of natural elements like lead, arsenic, etc., that produce locally high levels in water tables, that are above what is considered safe for humans. So, the argument that “it’s natural anyway” has limited utility.

      So, IMO, we need to be locally aware of what we are doing with our ranges, etc., so that we aren’t producing ground water lead levels higher than what is codified as “safe,” while fighting the perception that metallic lead is some sort of deadly poison, such that a few pounds of bullets or sinkers per acre is creating a health hazard. (Think how deadly the Gettysburg Battlefield should have been for the past 150 years!)

      Both the EPA and the NSSF have excellent documents that address the issue of lead on shooting ranges. I don’t still have the links, off the top of my head, but they can easily be Googled up and are worth studying — whether you agree with everything in them or not. They define what we have to deal with.

      A bit more searching will also find examples of gun clubs that actually were producing unacceptably high lead levels in the groundwater under and downstream from their ranges. So, it is possible to get into a position of having that “official” problem.

  9. Weer'd Beard says:

    Also remember there are laws drafted (but thankfully not passed) that defines “Armor Piercing Cop-Killer Boooolits” as any ammo that does NOT have a lead core….so Tin Frangible ammo, and copper monoliths suddenly become illegal…as well as lead

    Leaving you with…well nothing!

    • HSR47 says:

      A law passed in 1986 already bans certain types of bullets from being used in “handgun” calibers.

      Within the past few years there was a big kerfuffle because the ATF decided to expand the scope of what they considered to be “pistol calibers” to include rifle ammo, and subsequently they ended up demanding that certain projectiles be pulled from the market.

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