Government Goal to Cut Lead Ammo Further Pressures Gun Owners

Canada Guns ToxEcology Study of Lead Ammunition — In case Bill C-71 isn’t enough of a threat to Canada’s 2.1 million hunters and sport shooters, the government published a study this week to phase out lead in ammunition. Ammo companies and target ranges refused to cooperate with the research.

Environment and Climate Change Canada requested the report and published it April 4, according to the date stamp on the ministry’s web page for Moving Towards Using More Lead-Free Ammunition.

The 156-page study was led by Pamela Campbell of ToxEcology Environmental Consulting Ltd. in Vancouver. The ministry said the report doesn’t necessarily represent the views of the government and is inviting input.

Bullets and Primers

Lead can be highly toxic in humans and other animals, and shooting is the single biggest source of lead in Canadian land, the ministry said. Most rifle and handgun ammo uses a lead core in the bullet, often covered with copper, and cartridge primers also contain the metal. Many target ranges recover bullets and decontaminate soil. Indoor ranges also clean air.

The report follows last month’s publication of Bill C-71, a proposed law to ban more than 10,000 lawfully owned rifles, make it easier to prohibit even more, and make it harder to get and keep a gun licence and to buy firearms.

‘Another Attack’

“This is just another attack on gun owners,” said a user on Canadian Gun Nutz, the country’s main discussion forum for shooters. “If they were so concerned about environment, why haven’t they outright banned nuclear power generation? It creates the most toxic waste and poses a hell of a public hazard.”

“Despite agreeing that lead is a dangerous neurotoxin, there is as yet no clear evidence that lead-core ammunition poses serious health risks when harvesting deer or other big game at typical consumption levels,” Gary Mauser said in an article last September at Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership. “Risks are reduced by proper butchering and meat-handing techniques.”

The Liberal government’s environment ministry said in August 2016 that it was preparing to study lead ammunition and lead sinkers used in fishing. It said the research was part of commitments made by the previous Conservative government in 2013.

‘Defiant and Aggressive’

The Canadian Shooting Sports Association told members in December 2016 that the ministry had hired ToxEcology to gather data “to ban the sale of all lead ammunition in Canada.” It urged target ranges, hunters and shooters to boycott the company’s survey. ToxEcology’s report included the CSSA letter.

“Responses from many shooting ranges indicated a great deal of suspicion and paranoia regarding a government study on ammunition and some were defiant and aggressive in their non-engagement responses,” the ToxEcology report said.

“Overall, there has been significant reluctance from stakeholders across Canada to provide information for this study based on a general suspicion that any information provided will be used to restrict uses of lead ammunition and/or result in increased gun control,” ToxEcology said.

‘Devastating to the Sport’

Mauser said in another article last August that the government is considering banning both lead shot used in shotguns and lead-core ammunition in bullets. Canada has already made it illegal to shoot ducks and geese with lead shot, he said.

“This would be devastating to the sport,” said another user on Canadian Gun Nutz. “Just when you thought the new gun bill was our greatest threat.”