The Effort to Overturn the Lead Ammo Rule

The Effort to Overturn Ammo Rule
Rep. Jason Smith.web photo

We reported recently that a parting order from the Obama Administration that would ban lead ammunition and fishing tackle from being used on any federal public lands is now in the crosshairs of U.S. Representative Jason Smith (R-Salem) of Missouri.

On Jan 19, the last full day of the previous administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a director’s order phasing out the use of traditional lead ammo and tackle on federal lands.

According to this story from thesalemnewsonline.com Smith acted as the lead author of a bipartisan letter, signed along with 60 of his colleagues, sent to President Trump yesterday. Upon sending the letter, Smith said, "This last minute rule issued by the Obama White House is simply unacceptable. This is exactly the type of regulatory red tape which has been thrown up by unelected bureaucrats over the last eight years and what the American people soundly rejected last November."

Combating the order is important because, according to this story from The Hill, "Order 219 has provisions built in to extend the ban even to non-federal lands. This was President Obama's parting shot against an industry that's long been in his crosshairs."

The FWS issued the directive without notice and without giving stakeholders any time to comment, this story from thesalemnesonline.com says.

Smith's efforts were applauded by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the story says.

On the Smith letter, Lawrence Keane, NSSF senior vice president said, "The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting, and shooting sports industries, applauds the leadership of Congressman Jason Smith and a bipartisan group of 60 other members of Congress in urging President Trump and his Administration to overturn the order by the Obama Administration's director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service banning the use of traditional ammunition for hunting. The last minute timing of the order with no prior notice to industry, state agencies or sportsmen and conservation groups tells you everything you need to know about the political, anti-hunting motive for the order."

The lead ammo ban had some recalling the 2015 BATFE debacle in which the agency announced a ban on 5.56 M855 “green tip” ammo, one of the most plentiful military surplus ammo types on the market. The agency suddenly decided the M855 ammo fell afoul of the Gun Control Act of 1968 and its amendment, the 1986 Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act, which ban “armor piercing ammunition.”

Technically, under the BTAFE definition of “armor piercing” ammo, the M855 rounds did fall under the ban, but the authors of LEOPA included a legislative exception allowing the Attorney General to designate whether a “projectile is primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes.”

In 2015, the ATF moved to withdraw the exemption status of the M855 ammo, saying the bullets consisted of a steel core and therefore fell under the strictures of the 1986 law. The M855 projectile actually has an 80 percent lead core, covered in a thin steel sheath followed by a copper jacket.

The ban garnered a significant backlash which eventually caused it to be suspended.

Of the lead ammo ban, Smith said, “Rules like this are made simply to appease radical environmental groups while slamming a recreational pastime enjoyed by generations of hunters and fisherman across south central and southeast Missouri. Public lands are exactly that, for the public, but as we have come to know all too well in our area – the federal government’s end goal with these areas has been unfortunately akin to hanging a “KEEP OUT” sign. Sportsmen and fishermen are some of our country’s most dedicated conservationists. With this new Administration, we must take advantage of every opportunity possible to secure the traditional right of access to public land for not just these individuals but for every American.”

The story from The Hill says, "If unreversed, it's a devastating counterpunch to a significant consumer and manufacturing class, given with no thought to how government itself continually puts them in an untenable situation in which it neither approves new ammunition nor proves the harm traditional ammunition poses."