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Bill Would Ban Lead Ammunition In California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Environmentalists are pushing legislation to ban lead ammunition in California to prevent toxins from poisoning scavengers that eat animal remains left by hunters.

Final language of the bill was introduced Monday by Assembly Member Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, who said the legislation would remove a lingering source of pollution from the environment. It was sponsored by three major environmental groups -- Defenders of Wildlife, Audubon California, and the Humane Society of the United States.

"There really is no question that lead ammo is a threat," said Kim Delfino of Defenders of Wildlife. "To pass a bill in California would set the stage for this happening throughout the country, the way low-emissions vehicle standards changed the market nationwide."

Lead is a neurotoxin that has thwarted efforts to restore endangered California condors to their historic habitat. It's the major cause of death for condors and affects other scavengers such as bald eagles, golden eagles and turkey vultures.

Opponents of restrictions on ammunition purchases argue that animals that suffer from lead poisoning could be getting it from another source. They cite the fact that incidences of poisoning have not declined despite a ban since 2008 on the use of lead ammunition in the eight-county area where condor recovery is under way.

The National Rifle Association has opposed all bans on lead ammo in the past. The gun rights group has dismissed studies from the University of California, Davis and the University of California, Santa Cruz that show poisonings of birds of prey are highest during hunting seasons and that the lead isotopes in their bloodstreams match ammunition. The NRA says those studies are flawed.

NRA officials did not immediately return telephone messages seeking comment on the new bill.

Studies have shown that nonlead ammunition fires as accurately, but in some calibers it is more expensive than bullets made of lead. Proponents of the ban argue that as nonlead ammo becomes more popular with hunters, the prices will continue to decrease.

The bill comes as a subcommittee of the California Fish and Game Commission is studying whether to institute a ban statewide.

"The commission has looked at the lead issue for years," said Michael Sutton, the department's president. "Should we ban it on state lands, ecological areas and preserves? For all hunting statewide? I'm not going to hazard a guess as to what the commission will do."

Bill supporters, including pediatrician Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, say lead shot in animals consumed by humans is a public health issue because it puts children at risk of brain damage.

"We don't have to choose between hunting and protecting wildlife," said Jennifer Fearing of the Humane Society of the United States. "Removing lead from the environment isn't just good science. It's also the right thing to do."

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Avatar for user 'hiebelh'

hiebelh | March 12, 2013 at 8:31 a.m. ― 4 years ago

Banning lead ammunition is just another attempt to control the guns.

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Avatar for user 'susanmartha'

susanmartha | March 12, 2013 at 8:46 a.m. ― 4 years ago

is there no end to the damage these weapons and their ammunition have done, and are still doing?

think this is a terrific idea .... we will probably never get rid of the guns, but at least the ammo will not spread more poison after being fired.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | March 12, 2013 at 8:52 a.m. ― 4 years ago

Oh yes, because everyone I know who owns guns shoot their guns all over town, leaving lead everywhere!

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | March 12, 2013 at 10:36 a.m. ― 4 years ago

Another subtle attack on the Second Amendment by the Sacramento liberals. First lead ammo, then brass ammo then all ammo. I don't have any fear of being shot, but I do fear my rights being stolen in the name of environmental issues.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | March 12, 2013 at 11:49 a.m. ― 4 years ago

If they outlaw Pb can we use DU?

Seriously, I'd want to see a proposed alternative before restricting a widely used projectile. Also is the law proposing to restrict unjacketed lead or all lead? Or only lead shot? Any of those would have very different impacts. There seem to be a lot of technical details missing and there is no link to the wording of the proposed law. Any additional info would be appreciated Tracie.

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Avatar for user 'Alex_Grebenshchikov'

Alex_Grebenshchikov | March 12, 2013 at 12:07 p.m. ― 4 years ago

susanmartha, lead is a natural element, just like Gold, Hydrogen, Oxygen, and all the other poisons on the periodic table. We probably get more environmentally harmful waste from the Tijuana sewage river crossing over into the US in a single day than all of the lead ammunition fired in the wilderness in the entire US in a year.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | March 12, 2013 at 2:20 p.m. ― 4 years ago

I bet 99.9% of all bullets (the projectile part of a round) end up in a shooting range trap to be recycled.

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