Will Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson make a back door move to ban lead bullets the day before the November 2 elections?
Several environmentalist groups led by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) are petitioning the EPA to ban lead bullets and shot (as well as lead sinkers for fishing) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Although EPA is barred by statute from controlling ammunition, CBD is seeking to work farther back along the manufacturing chain and have EPA ban the use of lead in bullets and shot because non-lead alternatives are available. But here's the catch: the alternatives to lead bullets are more expensive. A ban on the sale of lead ammunition would force hunters and sport shooters to buy non-lead ammunition that is often double the cost of traditional lead ammunition. A box of deer hunting bullets in a popular caliber could be upwards of $55.
Although the EPA could have dismissed the request due to a lack of jurisdiction, it is obliging CBD. The EPA has asked for public comment on banning lead in ammunition, and an EPA notice was published seeking public comment that closes on October 31. Jackson would then make a decision to accept or reject the petition on November 1. You might say that even considering enacting what is effectively a new tax on hunters and gun owners--seemingly the only non-liberal group the Obama administration hasn't yet intentionally provoked--is less-than-perfect timing for the already beleagured Democrats as the midterm elections approach.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a trade association for the firearm and ammunition industry, has hit back against the petition sending Jackson a letter documenting why EPA has no jurisdiction and outlining the damage that banning lead ammunition would do to U.S. industry and jobs, conservation, and law enforcement. The NSSF estimates that more than 90 percent of hunters and sport shooters use traditional lead ammunition. If all hunters were forced to buy non-lead bullets that are made out of metals like tungsten, bismuth, and copper alloys, demand could easily begin to outstrip the supply and prices would go even higher.
Bill Clinton famously blamed the NRA and gun owners for sweeping Democrats from control of the House in 1994 after he pushed them to pass the Assault Weapons Ban. For Democrats, especially those in rural and conservative districts that are already facing votersí wrath, gun control could once again be an issue that helps defeat them and swings control of the House and perhaps even the Senate to the GOP.