Let’s Get The lead Out Of Ammo

                  The reason the NRA wins in Washington is because their opposition isn’t organized.  The opposition only comes to life when a terrible tragedy (Sandy Hook) occurs, and as soon as the posturing and pleading comes to an end, support for more gun control quickly disappears.  The NRA, on the other hand, never misses an opportunity to remind its members that the 2nd Amendment right to own guns must be constantly and continually defended.

                The problem is that people who support gun control usually don’t own guns.  But they do own something else.  What they own, and they share this ownership with gun owners by the way, is the world in which we live.  Whether we call ourselves environmentalists, preservationists, naturalists, ecologists, bird-watchers, tree-huggers, or just good, old-fashioned lovers of the outdoors, the number of people who support and enjoy the beauties and wonderment of nature dwarfs the NRA’s membership by far.

And now it appears that, for the very first time, these folks may be gearing up to challenge the NRA’s monopoly over discussions not about guns per se, but about the ways in which they are used.  I am referring  to the legislative battle in California over Assembly Bill 711 which bans all lead ammunition within the state. Previously lead ammunition was prohibited in areas inhabited by the California condor and certain other flyways; now environmentalists are attempting to extend the prohibition state-wide.

As expected, the NRA is using a combination of scare tactics (‘they’re really after your guns,’) pseudo-science (‘more animals die from road kills than from lead shot,’) and economic Armageddon (‘thousands of jobs are at stake,’) to spearhead the anti-711 crusade.  But the NRA’s campaign isn’t about what kind of ammunition will be used to shoot at game or targets per se.  It’s about who will set the terms and the tone for any discussion about guns.

The NRA has been very successful in making sure that government regulation over the gun industry, particularly the regulation of products, is minimal at best.  They know that if California bans all lead ammunition, that the regulatory virus will spread.  The country was settled East to West but new things tend to move from West to East.  Remember where half-and-half first started messing up coffee?  Remember a guy named Reagan?

The problem isn’t the lack of alternative, non-toxic materials.  The problem is the lack of communication between the two sides.  For example, we have banned lead-based paint and leaded gasoline, and nobody who wants to be taken seriously in any discussion about public health would question the Center for Disease Control’s recommendations on protecting children from exposure to lead.  Manufacturing lead ammunition creates the second highest consumption of lead, the 65 million metric tons used in 2012 ranking only behind the amount used in the manufacture of batteries.  But ammunition manufacturers have been petitioning the ATF for years without success to create realistic rules governing ammunition components that would allow non-toxic materials to be substituted for lead.

Here’s a real opportunity for the two sides to sit down, put the vitriol aside, and come up with a plan that satisfies both the public health risks of lead exposure on the one hand, and the ability of the ammo manufacturers to utilize non-toxic substances on the other.  And it wouldn’t have to involve any government regulation at all.  One of the NRA’s favorite symbols is our beloved bald eagle.  That bird lives today in great numbers because naturalists and environmentalists fought a long and difficult battle to get rid of DDT.  Why can’t we get together and do the same thing with lead?

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24 thoughts on “Let’s Get The lead Out Of Ammo

  1. “One of the NRA’s favorite symbols is our beloved bald eagle. That bird lives today in great numbers because naturalists and environmentalists fought a long and difficult battle to get rid of DDT.”

    And millions of people in the Third World died from preventable malaria. The factual basis of Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring” has been seriously challenged too. Whether those Bald Eagles were saved by the elimination of DDT is also debatable.

    Hunters went along with banning lead from shot shells used for migratory birds where the cause and effect were clear and demonstrable. Where is the science that someone shooting a bullet that lodges in the ground will likely lead to lead poisoning in nature? I guess deer just go around looking for spent bullets to ingest?

    I think this campaign has a lot more to do with making firearms ammunition unaffordable than anything else.

    lwk
    free2beinamerica2.wordpress.com

    • Hello again.

      If you really believe that Rachel Carson’s book has been “seriously” challenged then we don’t have anything to talk about. I don’t mind exchanging opinions with people who differ from me. But there’s a limit to how far one’s opinions can stray from the facts. You want to call me arrogant, fine. You want to call me an elitist, fine. But please don’t use words like ‘seriously’ when we are talking about science that has been proven again and again not just here but throughout the world. I suspect you also believe that creationism is science; after all, Darwin has been ‘seriously’ challenged by people who take themselves very seriously. The good news is that nobody else takes them seriously. I assume that every year you also take a trip to Dallas to look for the other shooters on the grassy knoll above Dealey Plaza.

      • See:

        Silent Spring at 40
        http://reason.com/archives/2002/06/12/silent-spring-at-40/1

        The summary on (2nd page):

        So 40 years after the publication of Silent Spring, the legacy of Rachel Carson is more troubling than her admirers will acknowledge. The book did point to problems that had not been adequately addressed, such as the effects of DDT on some wildlife. And given the state of the science at the time she wrote, one might even make the case that Carson’s concerns about the effects of synthetic chemicals on human health were not completely unwarranted. Along with other researchers, she was simply ignorant of the facts. But after four decades in which tens of billions of dollars have been wasted chasing imaginary risks without measurably improving American health, her intellectual descendants don’t have the same excuse.

        -end quote-

        lwk
        free2beinamerica2.wordpress.com

      • You don’t seem to know the difference between facts and opinions. Why don’t you take a look at the National Academy of Sciences. Oh, I forgot. They’re biased. After all, they get research money from federal government agencies.

  2. Here is another good article on Reason.com:

    DDT, Eggshells, and Me
    Cracking open the facts on birds and banned pesticides

    http://reason.com/archives/2004/01/07/ddt-eggshells-and-me

    Like all things DDT has good/bad sides to the story. Millions of people dying from malaria in the third world is a bad side.

    “I suspect you also believe that creationism is science; after all, Darwin has been ‘seriously’ challenged by people who take themselves very seriously.”

    I am not a creationist who thinks that God snapped his fingers and the world was created. But in order to get a degree in Computer Science I had to take a fair amount of advanced mathematics so I can claim to understand some of the arguments by the late Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe that question the mathematical validity of conventional theories of evolution.

    I suspect the truth is different from what either traditional evolutionists or creationists believe.

    ” I assume that every year you also take a trip to Dallas to look for the other shooters on the grassy knoll above Dealey Plaza.”

    Have been to the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository and as a shooter I find it odd that the shot was taken from the claimed angle. A much better shot was available down Houston street with a head-on target not moving laterally in respect to the shooter. But saw a staged recreation some years ago which showed it was certainly possible – “magic bullet” and all.

    lwk
    free2beinamerica2.wordpress.com

  3. “You don’t seem to know the difference between facts and opinions. ”

    Right. “Facts” come from the authorities that you respect. Anything else is by definition – your definition – an opinion.

    lwk
    free2beinamerica2.wordpress.com

      • I think this is the second conversation we’ve had. My impression is that you spend a lot of time invoking authorities over argument, and always manage to imply some derogatory – in your eyes – attribute, in this case homeschooling.

        How about the original subject of your post, how lead bullets are horrifically polluting the environment? As I said earlier, hunters worked with environmentalists to adopt non-lead shotshells for migratory birds where the case was scientifically clear. The case is far from clear or compelling in many other cases.

        However one thing is certain. Banning lead in bullets would most likely drive up the cost and scarcity of ammunition which would perfectly suit the gun-banners agenda. I understand that the military is being pushed into a similar agenda where the lives of our loved ones in military service will have their lives put in jeopardy by being forced to accept less than ideal ammunition.

        lwk
        free2beinamerica2.wordpress.com

      • As I recall our first conversation ended when I responded to your ranting about the American Medical Association by telling you that I was in agreement with you about the AMA but that when I talked about medical associations, which you felt were only robbing doctors of their freedom, that I was talking about the medical academies, like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Internal Medicine, which, among other things, set the standards for medical education and, as a result, doctors throughout the United states know how to share information about illness and know how to treat it in a uniform way. And your response to this was not to say, gee, maybe I’ve just learned something or, gee, maybe I just shouldn’t assume that any kind of medical “association” is bad because it robs doctors of their ‘freedom;’ instead you responded by ignoring what I said and told me that we didn’t need to discuss it any further and our conversation ended.

        As for lead, at one point during the Sacramento hearings last month a gentleman testified who identified himself as a ‘scientist’ and a ‘metallurgist.’ He didn’t say anything more specific about his background; i.e., where he worked, why he was calling himself a scientist or anything else. He then went on to talk about how there were different degrees of toxicity in lead and it hadn’t yet been proven that the toxicity level in certain kinds of lead ammo was necessarily ‘harmful.’ There has been a consensus among scientists, real scientists, people who hold degrees in science and earn their living as scientists that the substance known as lead is harmful. It harms children who used to eat leaded paint chips, it harms industrial workers who used to inhale leaded fumes from leaded energy sources. It’s harmful. Period. It should not be in the environment in the same way that asbestos should not be in the environment. And this consensus about lead was developed long before anyone was talking about leaded ammunition. Of course with your scientific background, you don’t need to even acknowledge this consensus, because as you say, the case isn’t ‘compelling.’

        If you had taken the trouble to read my blog carefully you would have noticed that I specifically laid the blame for the leaded ammo controversy at the feet of the ATF; not the shooters, not the gun owners, not the NRA, but the ATF. They haven’t done their job properly. But they get away with not doing their job because the moment there’s any discussion about guns, the two sides are too busy arguing with each other over false arguments (like whether lead is harmful) and the ATF is off the hook.

        Of course when anything is regulated the price goes up or the supply goes down, or both. You know what? Too bad. Somebody had to pay for seatbelts. Guess who paid for them. The consumer. If you had been old enough when seat belts were being debated, you probably would have gotten up as a witness and testified that the scientists who were advocating seatbelts were probably trying to increase the price of cars so that poor people couldn’t afford them. Or perhaps you would have made the argument that the case for seatbelts wasn’t ‘compelling.’ I’ll be the first person to say categorically that the government makes decisions to regulate (and de-regulate) not based on priorities or necessities, but based on politics. As a result, they often get it wrong. You know what? We’re human. We make mistakes. Ooops! Pardon me. Some of us make mistakes. Others, like yourself, are always right.

  4. “[Lead] harms children who used to eat leaded paint chips, it harms industrial workers who used to inhale leaded fumes from leaded energy sources. It’s harmful. Period. It should not be in the environment in the same way that asbestos should not be in the environment.”

    Lead is already in the environment. It is an element in the periodic table. It is 100% “natural.” Your argument is essentially this:

    1. Lead is harmful in place A where I can prove it is harmful.

    2. Therefore lead causes harm in place B by association.

    If kids were crawling through the forest and finding fired lead bullets and eating them then you might have a case. If deer were feeding on spent lead bullets you might have a case. But the fact that a lead bullet fired in the woods and ends up burying itself in the ground and stays there for the next million years is not proven as a great harm to humanity or the planet.

    A thing can be harmful if used in a certain way, but totally harmless if not used that way. Proving that something is harmful one way, does not prove that it causes harm in all other ways. Being harmful in one context does not prove causing harm in another.

    Like many other things, lead is very useful if used for certain things, and harmful if used in another way. A doctor’s scalpel can save lives if used in an operation and take lives if used by Jack the Ripper. Scalpels are very, very harmful and dangerous unless used properly. I understand in the the U.K. they are largely banning knives.

    ” … the ATF. They haven’t done their job properly.”

    And is it your understanding that the BATFE has the legal and regulatory power to ban lead bullets?

    “Of course when anything is regulated the price goes up or the supply goes down, or both. You know what? Too bad.”

    You really ought to change the name of your blog to:

    Mike-the-ban-guns-and-bullets-guy

    “Somebody had to pay for seatbelts. Guess who paid for them.”

    And guess who is continuing to pay for the plethora of other mandated safety and fuel economy measures? Go price a car today. A new car will soon be financially out of the reach of many people. But then a lot of people who support this sort of regulation are on record as saying that they hope it will lead to people giving up on owning cars and being forced into some sort of mass transportation.

    So I guess in the future only the rich elite will have either guns or cars.

    Thanks Mike-the-ban-guns-and-bullets-guy.

    • A new car will soon be financially out of the reach of many people. But then a lot of people who support this sort of regulation are on record as saying that they hope it will lead to people giving up on owning cars and being forced into some sort of mass transportation.

      OK. Please send me one example of someone who is “on record” re. the above.

  5. “OK. Please send me one example of someone who is “on record” re. the above.”

    Google “sustainable development” and you will get a lot of talk about how transportation needs to be managed for “sustainability” and “environmental impact,” with the clear goal of moving more and more people to mass transportation. For example:

    Transport and Sustainability
    http://people.hofstra.edu/geotrans/eng/ch8en/conc8en/ch8c4en.html

    It is a long discussion of how to manage/regulate for a “sustainable” outcome. You can plenty of other discussions of the same subject, some more or less candid about the means they intend to use.

    But since we’ve talked about guns, the only real means to compel people to do things is people with guns – people employed by the government. _Every_ edict the government puts out and you are expected to obey is ultimately backed up by people with guns (which is why some people want to make sure the people being “edicted” don’t have guns).

    You even said it yourself earlier:

    “Of course when anything is regulated the price goes up or the supply goes down, or both. You know what? Too bad.”

    I see you embodying the idea of “social engineering” and “top down” management by experts. You certainly are not a Libertarian, and I suspect your idea of “freedom” is something like “whatever the experts will let you do after they have banned everything else.” That is my Libertarian perspective.

    lwk

    • Here are two direct quotes from the sustainable development website you just sent me:

      Private and flexible forms of transportation, such as the automobile, are thus fundamental to urban mobility and should not be discarded as options for the sake of sustainability. …almost all public transit systems are financially unsustainable, imposing burdens on the society.

      This website says exactly the opposite of what you claim. Do me a favor. Find another blog to post your comments.

  6. ” Find another blog to post your comments.”

    Ok, but one last thought. I read the article and they talk about income levels to have that “private flexible forms of transportation.” Any common sense reading of goals about sustainable development tells you they see moving the line that determines the income level required higher.

    And I never saw you justify banning lead from bullets.

    lwk

    • “The problem with banning lead ammunition is that too alternatives to lead have been conveniently declared “armor piercing” and outlawed.”

      But he is mikethegunguy so he couldn’t possibly be for the subterfuge of banning ammo or making it too expense to buy except for those who go trap shooting with $3,000 shotguns.

      lwk
      free2beinamerica2.wordpress.com

      • That’s the best you can offer for a comment? So happy that your mind is open to discussion. I’m going to approve your comment because I think my blog readers would like to see the character and quality of the thoughts of people like yourself. I keep saying in blog after blog that the problem isn’t the lack of alternatives to lead ammunition, it’s the desire of the two sides to cast the argument in the most extreme terms. You proved that one.

      • What I have said, again and again, is that rather than argue and call names, the two sides should sit down and see if there are reasonable alternatives; reasonable both in terms of cost and technology. It may turn out that the cost of alternatives is too high. But we don’t know. And we don’t know because you’d rather lecture the other side on the glories of the 2nd Amendment than come up with a serious analysis of alternatives. Your friend, gun safety pro just sent a comment to my blog which consisted of calling me a “judas goat.” Wow. That really advances the discussion, doesn’t it? You guys should be ashamed of yourselves but why let an opportunity for reasonable discussion get in the way of name-calling?

  7. mike wrote:

    “What I have said, again and again, is that rather than argue and call names, the two sides should sit down and see if there are reasonable alternatives; reasonable both in terms of cost and technology.”

    There is no doubt that in certain scenarios lead is harmful. Hunters went along with banning lead shot for waterfowl hunting because the evidence was there.

    However, and I think I made this point which was an argument, and not name calling, that there is not a lot of credible evidence that some bullets fired into the forest and lodging in trees, or the ground, pose any significant public hazard. They probably could lay there for a million years without hurting anyone.

    The vast majority of lead ammunition is fired on shooting ranges and contained in well known and well defined areas. Don’t bring your babies to the shooting range and let them crawl around and pick up and eat spent lead bullets. Problem solved.

    Your problem more often than not, in my view, is some form of argument that goes like this: “I degrees in …. and am an authority and you should just bow to my better judgment.” Nope, doesn’t work that way for me.

    Really two fallacies at play here:

    1. Name calling
    2. Invoking authority

    lwk
    free2beinamerica2.wordpress.com

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