California may soon be the first state in the nation to ban lead in hunting ammunition, although the NRA is fighting the government the whole way. If bill AB711 passes, hunters’ bullets will not be able to contain the toxic metal, which poisons wildlife as well as humans.
Lead bullets are already illegal in eight California counties where condors live because the material is harmful to the endangered birds. The new proposal would expand such restrictions to cover the entire state.
According to environmentalists, animals eat the fragments inevitably left behind by these bullets, and now lead is showing up in the meat supply, poisoning human consumers.
“There's no reason to keep putting toxic lead into the food chain or risking human health when there are nontoxic bullets already on the market and in use by hunters,” said Jeff Miller of the Center for Biological Diversity.
Said Dan Taylor of Audubon California, “We've removed lead from gasoline, paint and children's toys. It's clear that lead ammunition has no place in hunting when safer and more effective alternatives are available.”
In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the North Dakota Department of Public Health released a study indicating that meat hunted with lead bullets was too toxic for children and pregnant women to consume.
NRA lawyers are fighting the ban, claiming that people will lose their jobs if the lead-bullet market dives and that copper bullets are more expensive than lead ones. They also claim that fewer people will buy hunting licenses if they can’t use lead bullets, which will result in less funding for conservation.
The California General Assembly has already passed the proposal, and now it is up to Governor Gerry Brown to decide whether he will sign the bill to enact it into law. Even if it passes, the bill will take several years to fully kick in.