by Robin Swanson
Assembly Bill 711, a bill by Assemblymembers Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) and Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) to require non-lead ammo for hunting, makes so much good common sense that is supported by dozens of groups from across the spectrum, from the California Medical Association to Children Now to the American Federation of County, State and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), not to mention being endorsed by almost every major newspaper in our state (see below).
And yet the opponents of the bill are asking the public to ignore decades of science proving that lead is a poison that is bad for humans and our environment, instead resorting to classic “slippery slope” arguments and trying to create other red herrings.
So I’d like to get back to the basics, because despite working in politics for a very long time, I still believe that common sense wins the day:
Lead is bad.
The Centers for Disease Control has said that there is no safe level of lead exposure for humans. That why we’ve banned it in everything from paint, to gasoline to children’s toys. Eating lead particles left in game meat shot with lead ammunition is bad for you. It’s bad for animals, like the California Condor, Golden Eagles and 130 other wild species, too.
Lead ammo is also bad.
“Over 60,000 metric tons of lead is used annually in the production of lead ammunition in the United States. Thus, lead-based ammunition is likely the greatest, largely unregulated, source of lead knowingly discharged into the environment in the US,” said Dr. Don Smith, Professor, Department of Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology, UC Santa Cruz. “In contrast, other significant sources of lead in the environment, such as leaded gasoline, lead-based paint, and lead-based solder, are recognized as hazardous and have been substantially reduced or eliminated over the past 50 years.”
Dr. Smith led a recent effort that attracted the signatures of more than 30 nationally respected scientists, who reached consensus on the need to remove lead from ammunition used in hunting.
Lead ammo is mean.
It only takes a tiny amount of lead to poison animals, causing immense suffering before killing them, and unfortunately, I see these animals in my clinic all too often,” said Dr. Vickie Joseph, a Placer County veterinarian who specializes in wildlife health. “Lead is toxic to vertebrate physiological systems, including the central and peripheral nervous, renal, cardiovascular, reproductive, immune and hematologic systems, and it is recognized as a carcinogen in California. Lead poisoning can cause an inability to fly, starvation, weakness, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, anemia, blindness, seizures and death.”
Dr. Joseph joined more than 100 other California veterinarians who signed a letter supporting the policy of requiring non-lead ammunition in hunting, an effort spearheaded by the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association.
We don’t have to use lead ammo.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1991 began to require the use of non-lead shot like steel for hunting ducks and geese across the United States, California began requiring lead-free ammo in the condor zone in 2008, and the National Park Service in 2009 announced the goal of eliminating the use of lead ammunition.
There are already manufacturers of non-lead ammunition in the state of California, and thousands and thousands of waterfowl hunters in California already use non-lead ammunition.
And if this isn’t enough, the following newspaper editorials agree with the bill’s sponsors including Audubon California, Defenders of Wildlife and The Humane Society of the United States in calling for enactment of AB 711… (over the flip)
And if this isn’t enough, read any of the following newspaper editorials who agree with the bill’s sponsors Audubon California, Defenders of Wildlife and The Humane Society of the United States in calling for enactment of AB 711…