Gun Laws & Legislation

New Attack on Ammunition, “Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012″ to Protect Rights of Hunters

Mike Piccione
Editor, Guns & Gear

Following the filing of yet another petition with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) seeking to ban the use of traditional ammunition (ammunition containing lead-core components) by America’s sportsmen and women, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry, is urging Congress to pass the “Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012″ (H.R. 4089). This important legislation combines four legislative priorities including the Hunting, Fishing, and Recreational Shooting Protection Act (H.R. 1558), which amends the Toxic Substances Control Act to clarify the original intent of Congress to exclude traditional ammunition and fishing tackle from regulation by the EPA.

The petition, filed by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and other like-minded groups, is the third attempt by the CBD to ban traditional ammunition since it first petitioned EPA in 2010. Though this petition claims to narrow the scope of the ban, it does not change the fact the EPA has no jurisdiction over this matter. Furthermore, by excluding military and law enforcement from the ban, the CBD is all but admitting its original petition from two years ago would have also banned military and law enforcement ammunition – a factor that led the Fraternal Order of Police to support HR 1558. The EPA rejected the CBD’s 2010 petition, prompting a CBD lawsuit that is still pending.

The new petition erroneously claims that the use of traditional ammunition by hunters is inconsistent with the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976. The petition goes on to suggest that the use of traditional ammunition poses a danger to human health and wildlife, in particular raptor populations, such as bald eagles, that may feed on entrails of unrecovered game left in the field.

The myth of a human health risk has been thoroughly debunked by a 2008 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that found the health of hunters consuming game harvested with traditional ammunition was not at risk.

“These relentless and unfounded attacks against traditional ammunition by agenda-driven groups such as the CBD are exactly why Congress must take immediate action and pass the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012,” said NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane. “Needlessly restricting or banning traditional ammunition absent sound science will hurt wildlife conservation efforts as fewer hunters take to the field. Let’s not forget, hunters and their ammunition have done more for wildlife than the CBD ever will.”

Keane is referencing the federal excise tax that manufacturers pay on the sale of the ammunition (11 percent), which is a primary source of wildlife conservation funding and the financial backbone of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. The bald eagle’s recovery, considered to be a truly great conservation success story, was made possible and funded by hunters using traditional ammunition – the very ammunition organizations like the CBD now demonize.

Lawrence G. Keane is the author of this article. He is the Senior Vice President and General Counsel, National Shooting Sports Foundation. Follow him at http://twitter.com/lkeane.