- The Washington Times - Friday, August 27, 2010

The Supreme Court’s recent McDonald and Heller decisions have thus far thwarted the gun grabbers’ best efforts by upholding the individual’s right to own firearms. Late Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency added another victory to the list as it shot down an attempt to undermine the Second Amendment through the regulation of bullets. On Aug. 3, the American Bird Conservancy and groups like Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to ban traditional lead ammunition as a “health risk.”

Obviously, the argument was not that recipients of a 45-caliber slug might suffer from lead poisoning. Instead, these activists asserted that bullets weighing less than half an ounce might hit the ground and somehow poison the planet. It just isn’t true. The Clinton administration’s EPA looked into the issue and found no cause for concern. The claim that “lead based ammunition is hazardous is in error,” EPA senior science adviser William Marcus wrote in a Dec. 25, 1999, letter. Lead on the soil surface “does not break down,” he explained. It “does not pose an environmental or human hazard. … In water lead acts much the same as in soil.”

Even eating an animal that has been shot by lead ammunition poses no risk to human health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted blood tests on 736 hunters and reported in 2008 that lead ammunition produced very small changes in lead exposure, with concentrations well below CDC benchmark levels of concern.

On the other hand, the proposed restrictions would have caused real harm. Ammunition containing lead, a dense and heavy metal, has significant advantages, such as greater stopping power and more accuracy. Lighter ammunition has less momentum and over a longer distance will be less accurate. Using nonlead ammunition in guns designed for lead causes them to wear out much more quickly, and the ammunition itself is generally twice as expensive.

This time, however, the EPA did not make its decision on the merits of the argument. The agency instead agreed with an Aug. 20 filing from the National Rifle Association that explained how Congress had specifically excluded ammunition from the Toxic Substances Control Act which governs potentially harmful materials such as lead. This failed attempt to harass law-abiding gun owners using an unelected bureaucracy underscores the importance of perpetual vigilance in preserving the most important of constitutional rights.