Amid the furor of President Trump’s inauguration and first week in office, a parting decision by former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Dan Ashe banning the use of traditional ammunition on Service lands within five years hasn’t gotten much ink…but it’s a major blow to American sportsmen. Gun rights groups are mounting a defense, and it can all be undone with a stroke of a pen.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) condemned the decision in a release saying, “The parting shot, Director’s Order 219, was issued on the final full day of President Obama’s administration. The last-minute action revives an effort the administration undertook eight years ago to ban the use of traditional ammunition.”

“This directive is irresponsible and driven not out of sound science but unchecked politics,” said Lawrence Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel in the release. “The timing alone is suspect. This directive was published without dialogue with industry, sportsmen and conservationists. The next director should immediately rescind this, and instead create policy based upon scientific evidence of population impacts with regard to the use of traditional ammunition.”

The state law that totally phases out lead ammo by 2019 is gaining some acceptance.

California Hunters Slowly Getting Used to Lead-Free Ammo

The order requires several initiatives to go into effect immediately, according to the NSSF. Regional Directors are to work with state agencies to ban the use of traditional ammunition in favor of ammo made from steel, compressed copper, or other non-lead based materials. It also ends the use of traditional ammo on federal lands including National Parks, tribal lands and National Wildlife Refuges in order to mirror policies in states where traditional ammunition is already restricted.

The order also requires the creation of a timeline to restrict traditional ammunition for dove and upland bird hunting, the release says.

The ban can also cause more problems for beleaguered gun owners in California and states with similar laws. Because the state explicitly bans handgun ammunition that isn’t lead-based, believing that it’s “armor piercing,” this creates a problem and a de facto ban on all handgun ammo on federal land in the state.

“That sets up a nice little circular logic, the end result of which is that handguns are now effectively banned on federal land in California and similar states,” stated Nick Leghorn in this post for

“If states like California want to ban lead ammunition, then they need to update their laws to removed the ridiculous ‘armor piercing’ ammunition ban,” he writes.