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Get the Lead Out
The New York Times, May 16, 2011

Another Misguided Idea From the Gun Lobby

The Environmental Protection Agency declined to block the use of lead in hunting and fishing last year. It was the wrong call. To ensure that the agency doesn’t come to its senses, the National Rifle Association — assisted, as usual, by Congress — is pushing legislation that would bar the E.P.A. from restricting the sale of lead shot and bullets or lead sinkers.

The Senate bill’s name — the Hunting, Fishing, and Recreational Shooting Protection Act — is a sign of how backward the Senate gets it. What needs protecting is wildlife that ingests the lead, including migratory waterfowl and birds of prey, notably California condors. Humans need protection, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people show higher levels of lead in their blood after eating game killed with lead shot or bullets.

There are perfectly acceptable, nontoxic substitutes. Fishermen and hunters have been voluntarily adopting bismuth shot, copper bullets, and nonlead sinkers. Several states have set up exchange programs to encourage hunters to turn in lead-based shells for nonlead shells. In the past few years, 25 states have proposed bills to eliminate lead shot. They have regularly gone down to defeat thanks to deceptive campaigns that portray the effort as anti-gun, anti-hunting or anti-fishing.

Banning lead poses no threat to hunters or fishermen. It is a way of making sure they kill only the prey they seek without inadvertently killing other creatures as well. Congress should ignore the N.R.A.’s importunings and reject this latest misguided legislation. And the E.P.A. should issue the ban.

© 2011 The New York Times Company

This article originally appeared here.

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton