Gun owners can rest easy about one aspect of President Obama’s agenda. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision to close the country’s last remaining lead smelter will not cause further ammunition shortages or higher costs.
Lawrence Keane is the senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), which represents the ammunitions and firearms industry.
“Manufacturers use recycled lead to make ammunition. They don’t buy from smelters,” Mr. Keane told me Monday. “The EPA closing, which has been in the works for a while, will have no impact on production, supply or cost to the consumers.”
A primary smelter is like a coal mine — it takes the lead out of the ground and turns it into a usable product. The more than 100-year-old Doe Run Lead Smelter is closing its Herculaneum plant at the end of the year to comply with air-quality standards set by the EPA.
American ammunition manufacturers use lead that has been recycled from a variety of everyday products, like car batteries and tire weights.
Ammunition supply has been at historic lows over the last year. This has led some to believe Internet conspiracy theories blaming Mr. Obama, such as the Department of Homeland Security buying up the civilian supply.
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In fact, supply is low simply because demand was off the charts in the year leading up to Mr. Obama’s re-election. After the president announced his gun-control agenda following the Newtown tragedy last December, demand rose for the already-low supply, which led to empty shelves.
Heavy demand continues today because of gun owners’ legitimate fears of additional federal and state restrictions on their Second Amendment rights.
The major manufacturers have been trying to backfill the supply by running the plants with 24/7 with three shifts in 2013, according to the NSSF.
However, gun owners should be genuinely concerned about ammunition costs skyrocketing due to the law recently signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown that bans lead ammo for hunting in the state.
The Golden State is always leading the country in inventing absurd gun-control laws based on junk science. This new statute is based on two bogus claims: that lead ammunition kills off wildlife populations and that people can get sick from eating game shot with lead ammo.
“Banning traditional ammunition will result in an unprecedented constriction of supply and massive price increases,” Mr. Keane of the NSSF said of the California law. “Large numbers of hunters will be driven out of the field and target shooters off the firing line.”
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Make no mistake, Mr. Obama and his gun-grabbing cohorts around the country want to infringe on the Second Amendment whenever possible. However, in the case of the lead smelter closing, gun owners ought not to be up in arms.
Emily Miller is senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times and author of “Emily Gets Her Gun” (Regnery, 2013).