Environmental activists have been pushing for a ban on lead ammunition here in the United States for over a decade, and last year the Center for Biological Diversity successfully lobbied to make California the first state in the Union to bar lead-based ammo from being used while hunting.
Activists have been demanding similar bans across the European Union as well, and now Denmark has announced that the country will be the first in the EU to ban all hunting ammunition containing lead, with the ban taking effect in 2023. Environmental minister Lea Wermelin says the country’s largest hunting organization is on board with the ban.
“Lead is a heavy element with no place in Danish nature or in our food chains. Hunting in Denmark must be sustainable, and not pollute our shared nature. This is why I’m happy that the government and the Danish Hunters’ Association are working towards making Denmark the first country in the world to ban leaded rifle ammunition for hunting. Just as we were the first country in the world to ban lead shot in shotgun cartridges.”
While a total ban on lead ammunition in the United States would require congressional approval, don’t be surprised if Joe Biden moves to prohibit the use of the ammunition on federal lands. Back in 2017, then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke undid an Obama-era order that would have blocked lead ammo from being used on agency land, including 150-million acres of National Wildlife Refuges, but that rule could be re-established by whoever Biden taps to run the department.
At the moment, the rumors are that New Mexico Rep. Debra Haaland is the first choice to head up the Department of Interior. Haaland would be the first Native American cabinet official in U.S. history, but she’s also an ardent supporter of gun control, declaring on her campaign website that “we need to rid our communities of military-grade weapons; neither hunting nor policing require automatic weapons.”
The firearms industry has long been opposed to bans on traditional ammunition, with the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Larry Keane arguing in 2015 that lead ammunition has been used in hunting for hundreds of years “without any ill effects to hunters or their families.”
And while our mission is the promotion of hunting and sport-shooting, most families around the country and in Oregon may never consume meat acquired through hunting of any kind.
A 2008 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study on blood lead levels from North Dakota families that consumed meat hunted with traditional ammunition showed levels lower than that of the average American and did not remotely approach any threshold of concern.
I have a feeling that the CDC study is going to be roundly ignored in favor of emotional rhetoric about saving bald eagles and other wildlife populations from dying off after ingesting spent ammo, even if research can’t show that lead ammo is causing mass die-offs in the wild. The science may be unsettled, but the anti-gun agenda of Democrats is well established, and if given the opportunity I have no doubt they’ll reimpose the ban on lead ammunition on federal lands and push for states to do the same.