Lead Ammo Illegal?

AB 3071

I have been a member of Safari Club International for years.  We are a hunting club… and, as such, a political organization.  A ways back, the California government was toying with the idea of restricting hunting… I know… shocking, huh?!?

Its methodology was interesting though, and to its credit it had employed a Machiavellian scheme to get individuals who were the direct target of its legislation to buy into and potentially become advocates of the legislation itself. 

Insidious and devious, but… you gotta hand it to them… genius. 

Condors, as many of you know, are scavengers.  They are also endangered here in California.  Their population is localized to a fairly small geographic region in central California. 

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (at the time The Department of Fish and Game… the name change should tell you something), along with its allies in the state legislature, proposed a ban on lead ammunition in condor territory.  Their theory… or at least the one they promulgated… is that the condors were eating the gut piles of our hunting kills, and they were consuming lead in the process.  There was absolutely no empirical evidence to support this contention… but they pushed the story anyway.  They also had their advocates come to groups like ours to explain why it was a really, really good idea to use non-lead bullets in condor territory, that we just needed to do this to preserve this special species.

My colleagues were less than impressed.

To a person, they were polite and respectful to the DFG officer and told him they simply did not buy the science.  More to the point… They told him that California would use this condor zone prohibition as a test case.  They would then expand the territory to all of California and, ultimately, demand that non-lead bullets be used everywhere and anywhere in California… irrespective of the underlying activity.  California wanted to make shooting expensive, dangerous, and difficult.  It wanted to make hunting unsustainable.  This would be its vehicle to do so.

The DFG officer was incredulous, “Absolutely not!  California respects hunters and shooters!”

Two years later there was the statewide ban on lead hunting, even though most of the state is not condor territory, and now we have AB 3071.

(If you have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here…)

AB 3071 is a complete ban on lead bullets anywhere in California.  You cannot use them at the range (both indoor and outdoor).  They don’t even bother using the condors as the justification anymore.  They just don’t want lead.

So… what is the problem with lead bullets?

Nothing… absolutely nothing… except they are relatively inexpensive. 

The alternative is steel.  Steel does a number of things.  First and foremost, it is more expensive than lead so rounds become more expensive.  Second, it cannot be used on steel targets.  (Lead tends to flatten and drop when it strikes steel; steel projectiles tend to ricochet and spark when they strike steel.)

Steel also plays hell with barrels.  Shoot enough rounds through a barrel with steel shot, and you are going to degrade the barrel faster than if you were using a softer metal.

The big thing here is why.

Why does the state give a rat’s ass what you shoot in an indoor range? 

What type of jurisdiction does it purport to have over the activity that takes place at a private range?

My colleagues at Safari Club were absolutely correct in their assessment.  California was using the condor as an entry vehicle to ultimately make the exercise of a fundamental, specifically enumerated individual right too expensive or cumbersome for the individual to exercise.

Contact your representatives and tell them to vote NO on AB 3071.  Depending on your representative, he or she will not pay any attention to you at all.  I fully expect this bill to be passed.

Whether it passes a series of expected court challenges is another story.

Steven Lieberman is a co-owner with his wife/partner Sandy Lieberman of the Artemis Defense Institute, a tactical training facility headquartered in occupied California.   (adi.artemishq.com).  Mr. Lieberman is also one of the founding partners in the Law Offices of Lieberman and Taormina LLP.  Their law firm specializes in use-of-force and Second Amendment defense and litigation.

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Comments (2)

  • Ken Caplin aka Tough Guy Levi #61430L Reply

    Cowboy Action Shooting ie SASS would be “out of business” should lead bullets (AB 3071) not be allowed for use in CA. Lead bullets against steel targets are the norm!

    03/04/2020 at 12:18
  • Kristian Krause Reply

    I am still waiting on the post-lead ban studies on the condors. The biggest problem? Condors don’t recognize state borders.
    More importantly, what they were finding in these condors was a gut FULL of bright, shiny things. Not only are they scavengers, but they are attracted to shiny objects (it was amusing the number of wedding rings found- I don’t think those were from the guts of hunted animals). A more appropriate “ban,” if condors were truly the impetus, would have been to not allow hunters to do field dressings that left the lead behind for the condors to eat. Those parts would need to be hauled out as well.
    Sorry, I will stop thinking. This isn’t any different than the battle I have with the argument that rodenticide causes mange in bobcats, cougars, and coyotes…

    03/15/2020 at 20:15

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