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June 22, 2010

Legislation Banning Ammunition Heard in California Committee


Legislation (AB 2223 ) that would ban the use of  traditional shot ammunition when hunting or shooting on all state wildlife management areas (110 areas) was heard in the California Natural Resources and Water Committee today.  NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane testified in opposition to the bill. .The vote failed by one, but was granted reconsideration allowing it to be taken up again next week. Assembly Bill 2223 would be another major step towards banning the use of all traditional ammunition – for any lawful purpose – statewide. 

Among the groups testifying in opposition to AB 2223 was the California Department of Fish and Game.  In a letter to the Chairwoman of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, Sen. Fran Pavley, the CDFG stated “The Department believes this bill circumvents the regulatory process.”  This is a view shared by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) – the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry.  

“Wildlife population management decisions and hunting regulations are best left to the professionals at the California Fish and Game Department based on sound science,” said NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane. “The Legislature is not the appropriate forum for these decisions to be made.”

Supporters of the ammunition ban, including anti-hunting groups such as Audubon California, Action for Animals, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club California and The Humane Society of the United States, are leaving no stone unturned in their attempt to take away the right of hunters to chose their own ammunition. In addition to sponsoring AB 2223 (legislation), Audubon California has filed a petition (regulation) with the Fish and Game Commission to ban traditional ammunition.  This petition will be considered on Thursday, June 24, at a Commission meeting in Sacramento.

Traditional Ammunition and Wildlife Management

Wildlife management policy is based on population impacts, not on isolated instances involving individual animals of a species. Absent sound scientific evidence demonstrating a population impact arising from the use of traditional ammunition, there is no justification for banning its use.

Needlessly banning traditional ammunition will actually hurt wildlife conservation efforts because conservation dollars collected from the sale of ammunition will be reduced as fewer hunters take to the field. In fact, the excise tax dollars of 11 percent that manufacturers pay on the sale of this ammunition is the financial backbone of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.

 “If Assemblyman Nava’s bill passes,” continued Keane, “it is the state and local economies that will need help. The proposed ban, while doing nothing to help wildlife, would force hunters to use other, more costly ammunition alternatives. This would make hunting more expensive and ultimately lead to a decline in hunters, hunter support for wildlife conservation and hunter-generated income.”

Research has demonstrated that hunters will overwhelmingly adopt behaviors on their own accord that protect non-game species if sound, unbiased, third-party science identifies a population impact.  Absent this science, hunters should be given a choice.

Raptors and Traditional Ammunition

Some continue to claim that the use of traditional ammunition poses a danger to raptor populations such as the bald eagle, which may feed on entrails or unrecoverable game left in the field.  This is simply untrue. In California, like the rest of the United States, raptor populations are flourishing.

Nationally, from 1981 to 2006, the number of breeding pairs of bald eagles increased 724 percent.  In California, pairs of breeding bald eagles increased 128 percent from 1991 to 2006.