NRA SEEKS TO PROTECT HUNTERS’ INTERESTS IN LAWSUIT SEEKING BAN ON LEAD AMMUNITION AND FISHING TACKLE

Recently the National Rifle Association (NRA) filed a motion to intervene to fight for hunter’s rights in a lawsuit brought by self-proclaimed environmentalists that seeks to force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban the manufacture, processing, and distribution of lead shot, bullets, and fishing sinkers throughout the country.  NRA, joined with Safari Club International (SCI), seeks to enter into the case to defend the rights and interests of hunters, competitive shooters, and other firearm owners who would otherwise likely not be adequately represented in the case.

An adverse ruling could have far-reaching impacts regarding lead and its role in traditional forms of American outdoor recreation.  NRA is joining the lawsuit, along with SCI, to fight against the effort to ban traditional lead ammunition. Documents filed in the lawsuit can be viewed here.

The lawsuit follows the EPA’s recent denial of a Petition that was filed to force EPA to pass regulations banning certain lead-based sporting products, including ammunition and fishing tackle.  The Petition and the subsequent lawsuit were both filed by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and joined by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and “Project Gutpile.” Though the EPA correctly denied the Petition, CBD and the other plaintiffs refuse to accept that decision. They brought this lawsuit hoping to have the EPA’s decision overturned by a court.

The legal argument being used to try to force EPA to ban lead ammunition and fishing tackle is based on a nonsensical interpretation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which includes a specific exclusion for ammunition.  TSCA, section 3(2)(B)(v)) precludes the EPA from regulating ammunition.  But, CBD wants a court to hold that the TSCA ammunition exclusion does not apply to bullets and shot, because neither bullets nor shot are actually “ammunition” (i.e., a shell, primer, and projectile, etc., in one cartridge or unit). CBD’s argument is founded on an inapplicable interpretation of a tax ruling issued by the IRS in 1954 that distinguished the sale of “separate parts of ammunition” and complete ammunition for taxation purposes only.

For many months the NRA has been spearheading an effort to gather information and science to oppose the expansion of lead ammunition bans.  This has involved coordinated efforts between interested parties to plan, research, conduct clerical work, and make numerous formal requests for documents from government agencies via Public Records Act requests (“PRARs”) and Freedom of Information Act requests (“FOIAs”).  The documents have been organized and analyzed, and ultimately a searchable database of tens of thousands of documents was created.  The project also includes consultations with various experts to interpret the data and study or debunk reports that purport to justify lead ammo bans. The effort has already resulted in the rejection of several proposed lead ammo bans in California.

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