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May 17, 2011

NSSF Responds to Today’s New York Times Editorial

NSSF responds to today’s New York Times editorial attacking traditional ammunition:

May 17, 2011

The New York Times
Letters to the Editor
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018

To the Editor:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) correctly rejected a petition by anti-hunting groups to ban the use of all traditional ammunition manufactured with lead components based on a statute passed by congress over 35 years ago (“Another Misguided Idea From the Gun Lobby,” May 17, 2011).  As even one of the petitioners has acknowledged, the proposed ban would have applied to all ammunition, not just hunting ammunition, thereby affecting not only sportsmen, but the military, law enforcement and all responsible gun owners. Bipartisan legislation, sponsored by the co-chairs of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, which is the largest caucus in congress, seeks to further clarify the existing exemption of ammunition from EPA jurisdiction and to exempt sport-fishing tackle.  Over 35 of the nation’s largest conservation groups support this commonsense legislation.

The science of wildlife management is based on managing populations, not on preventing isolated instances of harm to individual animals.  If wildlife management were to be based on preventing harm to individual animals then presumably hunting would be banned. Hunting, however, is a critical management tool, and the excise taxes paid on the sale of the ammunition you demonize is the primary funding source for wildlife and habitat conservation in the United States.  Absent sound scientific evidence of a population impact caused by the use of traditional ammunition, there is no justification for further restricting or banning its use.

The proper agencies to protect wildlife are the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the 50 state fish and game agencies. To illustrate this point, the Fish and Wildlife Service, not the E.P.A., barred the use of lead shot for waterfowl hunting many years ago.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study does not, as you claim, show a health risk to hunters who consume game harvested with traditional ammunition. Quite the opposite is true, as demonstrated by the study showing that the average hunter had blood lead levels less than half that of the average American – including those walking the streets of Manhattan.  There has never been a documented case of lead poisoning, let alone elevated lead levels, caused by consuming game harvested with traditional ammunition.  Once again, the arguments posed in your editorial are agenda-based science and don’t hold up to factual scrutiny.

Alternative ammunition made with substantially more expensive metals comprises just 5 percent of the ammunition market in the United States.  Banning traditional ammunition, based on emotion rather than science, will result in skyrocketing prices for ammunition.

Indeed, by needlessly banning traditional ammunition, price sensitive hunters and target shooters as well as fishermen will be priced out of their sport, and funding for wildlife and habitat conservation will dry up.


Lawrence G. Keane
Senior Vice President and General Counsel
National Shooting Sports Foundation

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