The National Rifle Association, already on high alert over gun control rumors, has gone to battle stations to fight a new scheme before the Environmental Protection Agency to restrict hunters and anglers from using lead bullets, shot and sinkers.
Chief NRA lobbyist Chris Cox charges in a letter to the EPA that the effort amounts to "a vehicle to implement gun control" and could end hunting by most who can't afford the higher priced alternatives to lead.
At issue: lead, the most widely used material for making bullets, shot, and sinkers. The Center for Biological Diversity says in a 100-page petition that lead used by outdoorsmen and women can be blamed for causing deaths in some 130 species of birds like eagles. "Lead-based bullets fragment on impact, distributing toxic lead particles widely throughout carcasses, and making it impossible for scavenging animals or humans to avoid ingesting lead along with meat," says the center, joined on petition by the American Bird Conservancy, the Association of Avian Veterinarians, and two other groups.
The NRA counters that claims lead is causing a horrific toll on wildlife is bogus. The proof, they say, is the population explosion of American Eagles around the nation, including some inside Washington's beltway.
But more importantly, says the NRA, the EPA is barred from regulating ammo or fishing sinkers under the Toxic Substances Control Act. But the ammo foes think that they have found a way around that by asking the EPA to regulate elements of ammo and the element they want banned is the lead.
Cox said that would counter what Congress has intended in previous laws. "Put another way, if Congress exempts a cow from regulation, one could hardly argue that it nevertheless would allow for regulation of the hide attached to the cow's body," said Cox.
Despite the opposition from the NRA and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association for the firearm and ammunition industry, the EPA is considering banning lead. It is seeking public comment until Halloween.
See the NRA's letter to the EPA.
See the anti-lead petition.
- See who in Congress gets the most from gun rights groups.
- Read more about Gun Control and Gun Rights.
- Check out a roundup of this month's best political cartoons.