I don’t know how many times we’re going to have to revisit this same basic story but the answer remains the same: lead ammunition isn’t going away for a long, long time, and those claiming otherwise are ignorant of the industry.
Fox News is just the latest news outlet to screw things up, with Perry Chiaramonte exhibiting sloppy reporting in a post entitled: End of the line for the lead bullet? Regulations, bans force switch to ‘green’ ammo.
And so a fisking we will go:
When the last bullet-producing lead smelter closes its doors on Dec. 31, it will mark a major victory for those who say lead-based ammunition pollutes the environment, but others warn ‘green’ bullets will cost more, drive up copper prices and do little to help conservation.
This statement is entirely false, starting with the fact that Doe Run doesn’t make bullets.
In recent days various news outlets, blogs, and forums have gotten very worked up over the closure of the nation’s last primary lead smelter in Herculaneum, Missouri. Many are claiming that this is an attempt of the Obama Administration to implement “backdoor gun control” by destroying the lead used as the primary metal in most bullets and shot used by the ammunition industry.
This is simply untrue.
Despite the hysteria to the contrary, the primary smelter in Herculaneum has almost no direct impact on the U.S. ammunition market. Pure lead, in fact, is not desirable for the creation of ammunition as it is too soft. Pure lead is primarily used in the creation of low-contamination specialty products.
Chiramonte obviously didn’t bother to learn the difference between primary smelters (which make lead “bricks” for specialty use) and the secondary smelters which supply all major and mid-major U.S. ammunition suppliers with lead pulled primarily from recycled batteries.
It doesn’t get any better when we get deeper into the article.
The bid to ban lead bullets, seen by some as harmful to the environment, started slowly more than a decade ago. But with two dozen states, including California, banning bullets made of the soft, heavy metal, the lead bullet’s epitaph was already being written when the federal government finished it off.
California did not ban lead ammunition. AB 711 affects only the relatively small amount of lead ammunition used in hunting.
Bulk ammunition consumption in training and target shooting dwarfs the amount of ammunition used in hunting, and this bulk ammo consumption is not affected by California’s new hunting ammunition law, at all. A competent big game hunter generally uses less than a 20-round box of hunting ammunition in the field in a year, but may fire thousands of rounds of lead-core ammunition at the range in the same year. Chiramonte simply didn’t bother to read and understand the law, and made inaccurate assumptions.
Likewise, the military’s conversion to “green” ammunition is of minimal influence, as military ammunition consumption is a small and specialized part of the overall U.S. market.
This isn’t to say that copper ammunition hasn’t made strides in the U.S market, as the metal does have some performance gains in specialized applications and has attracted a following in both hunting and self-defense markets.
Lead ammunition, however, is not threatened in any way for general use, and the industry itself rejects the assertion that the U.S. ammunition market is threatened by anything other than high demand.