Hot Air readers will recall the first time enviros decided to try this back door on gun control in August 2010, as Democrats approached a disastrous midterm. After getting petitioned to overrule law and declare itself a regulating agency on hunting, the EPA opened a comment period on the petition that would have ended two days before voters went to the polls. Within 72 hours, the EPA withdrew the petition, stating that it agreed with the NRA and the firearms industry that it “does not have the legal authority to regulate this type of product under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA),” and that they weren’t interested in seeking that authority, either.
Citing risks to birds and to human health, roughly 100 environmental groups formally asked the federal Environmental Protection Agency this week to ban or at least impose limits on lead in the manufacturing of bullets and shotgun pellets for hunting or recreation.
The use of such ammo by hunters puts about 3,000 pounds of lead into the environment annually and causes the death of 20 million birds each year from lead poisoning, said Jeff Miller, a conservation advocate at one of the groups, the Center for Biological Diversity. Consumption of meat from animals that are shot with lead bullets also contributes unacceptable levels of the metal into people’s diets, Mr. Miller said in a phone interview.
The ban sought by environmental groups would not apply to ammunition used by law enforcement and the military. In addition to bullets and pellets used in hunting and recreational activity like range shooting, the petition seeks to limit the use of the metal in fishing tackle and weights.
The application to range shooting should be another tip-off. While some ranges are open-air, few if any wild animals would graze on the range to consume the spent rounds, and fewer yet would be around to consume them. They’re not interested in protecting the environment from lead; they want to use the EPA to make it much more difficult and expensive for gun owners to buy ammunition by having the agency seize the authority to regulate a key component of firearms.
I asked if the EPA would find an interest in expanding its authority to include hunting and range fishing with this second opportunity. I believe the answer will be no, since this is another election year, and the last thing Barack Obama and Democrats need is another reason for gun owners to organize even more enthusiastically against them. But if Obama wins a second term, don’t be surprised if the third time’s the charm.