In response to increased pressure from gun control and anti-hunting groups who seek to ban lead core ammunition as an aspect of Toxic Substance Control Act, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA.) and Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AK) have introduced legislation to the US House and Senate respectively, requesting clarification and reiteration of the 1976 act’s longstanding exemption of ammunition.
These “ammo protection” measures come on the heals of the EPA’s August 27 announcement that they would back away from a petition supported by a collection of environmental groups to consider any lead containing product introduced into the environment as an environmental hazard. A short list of such lead containing items would have included traditional lead alloy bullets, shot and fishing sinkers. The petition further stipulated the need for an immediate moratorium on the production and distribution of lead core ammunition.
Steve Owens, EPA assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, issued the following statement:
EPA today denied a petition submitted by several outside groups for the agency to implement a ban on the production and distribution of lead hunting ammunition. EPA reached this decision because the agency does not have the legal authority to regulate this type of product under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) – nor is the agency seeking such authority.
The NRA firmly encouraged the EPA to reject this petition and the decision appears to be somewhat settling news to the nations most powerful gun advocacy group. Since the 2008 inauguration, the NRA has attempted to flush out rumors that the Obama administration seeks to foist gun and ammunition bans on the public though their findings have not been verifiable, owing in part to the fact that the White House has been unnervingly quiet on gun issues. This relative silence has prompted some analysts to postulate that a longer debate may have been an avenue for the current administration to address farther reaching 2nd Amendment concerns. The bills introduced by Representative Broun and Senator Lincoln may be symptomatic of these feelings.
On the issue of fishing sinkers however, the EPA ended their press release more enigmatically: “As there are no similar jurisdictional issues relating to the agency’s authority over fishing sinkers, EPA – as required by law – will continue formally reviewing a second part the petition related to lead fishing sinkers.”