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An End-Around Firearms Ban?

Before the 2008 election, there were a lot of warnings and scary platitudes tossed around about Obama.  Now granted a lot of them have come true, but one that hasn\’t is that Obama is going to take away our guns.  You heard it everywhere.  Gun owners started hiding weapons and firearm purchases went absolutely through the roof, so much that the joke was that Obama was the NRA\’s Salesman of the Year.

I heard all these claims and shoke my head at them all.  I knew Obama would never go after guns themselves.  The government confiscating firearms is just too symbolic and high-profile.  Even for non-Second Amendment supporters, it would be a little too Stalinesque to overlook.  I often counseled those that would listen that the danger was not in Obama taking away guns, but the ammunition.  Without ammunition a gun is just a really well engineered chunk of metal.  It\’s an awkward club, or a really cool mantelpiece for the fireplace.  It\’s the Achille\’s Heel of firearms, and there are a million ways to strike it.

Most obvious is placing high taxes upon either the ammunition itself or the components required to manufacture them.  Or imposing artificially high prices by limiting the available materials for ammunition.  This is actually an approach the Obama Administration has already tried….and backed down when they got caught.  But they may be up to their old tricks again….

With the fall hunting season fast approaching, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under Lisa Jackson, who was responsible for banning bear hunting in New Jersey, is now considering a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) – a leading anti-hunting organization – to ban all traditional ammunition under the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976, a law in which Congress expressly exempted ammunition.  If the EPA approves the petition, the result will be a total ban on all ammunition containing lead-core components, including hunting and target-shooting rounds. The EPA must decide to accept or reject this petition by November 1, 2010, the day before the midterm elections.

Now certainly there exists non-lead alternatives for ammunition, but they are also extremely expensive.  They also aren\’t nearly as effective.  Lead, being a softer metal tends to impart more of it\’s kinetic energy upon it\’s target, rather than the over-penetration problem you can have with other metals.  Lead is also a cheaper metal that keeps down the overall costs of the ammunition, which lends to people buying more of it.  This is important when a vast majority of the monies used for wildlife management and conservation efforts come from either hunting/fishing licenses and the 11 percent federal excise tax placed upon ammunition.

Eliminating one of the most common, and certainly the least expensive elements, in ammunition would necessarily greatly increase the cost of those rounds.  And when even a simple hunting trip can involve the purchase of many many rounds, this has a prohibitive effect on the hunting industry in general.  An industry that employs a lot of people and which contributes vast sums of resources to wildlife conservation efforts.  And when it becomes cost prohibitive to even buy such ammunition, firearms themselves become cost-prohibitive and you\’ve essentially accomplished the same thing a firearms ban would accomplish.