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Katy Grimes

CA Ammunition Ban Will Cause Shortages, Price Spikes

SACRAMENTO — The National Shooting Sports Foundation Wednesday released a report Wednesday demonstrating the negative effects California’s ban on the use of traditional lead ammunition in hunting will have on hunters, the state’s economy, and wildlife conservation.

Implementation of AB 711, by Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, D-South Gate, the legislation signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in late 2013, will at least triple the price of ammunition, driving more than one-third of the state’s hunters to hunt less or stop hunting completely. With the loss of more than 50,000 hunters in the state, California’s economy will see a loss of millions of dollars in salaries and in tax revenue.

In addition, as hunters are the primary source of conservation funding in the state, a dramatic decline in hunters means fewer dollars for wildlife conservation.

The survey-based report, commissioned by The National Shooting Sports Foundation on behalf of the firearms and ammunition industry, was presented to Commissioners at a public hearing of the Wildlife Resource Committee of the California Fish and Game Commission. The report examined the economic and supply issues associated with requiring California hunters to switch to alternative ammunition composed of metals other than lead.

Interestingly, while alternative ammunition in some calibers is available at a small degree, it makes up only a very small percentage of annual ammunition manufacturing.

The report enumerated the problems a lead ammo ban will cause:

  • Non-lead ammunition is not available for nearly half of hunting calibers;
  • The California ban will cause severe shortages nationwide;
  • The traditional ammunition with lead components shortages will lead to significantly higher prices.

The driving force behind the ban were animal rights groups, including the Humane Society, and Audubon California, which pushed for California to be the first state in the nation to kill wild game hunting. Hunting opponents claim the lead in the bullets is killing the California Condor.

Assembly Bill 711 passed largely because of concern over the poisoning of the California condor.

Hypocrites will do anything for a ‘win’

California Condor

The bill was amended at the 11th hour in a secret deal to postpone the effective date until 2019. If the need for the bill is really over concerns about poisoned Condors, what about the supposed thousands of great birds that will have died by the time the bill finally goes into effect five years from now?

Lawrence Keane, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told me the science proves there is not one species impacted by lead ammunition, and the existing lead ban has not had an impact on California condors. “They are still getting lead, but it’s from paint on water towers, and micro-trash,” Keane said. “This bill is solely about preventing hunting in California. The Humane Society doesn’t care about animals dying. There is no justification for delayed implementation of the bill. This is just an effort to restrict the use of ammo in states.”

And according to Keane, the Humane Society needs California to pass the bill in order to have the ammunition to pressure other states to do the same. There are already efforts underway in Oregon and Washington by the Humane Society to ban traditional ammunition with lead components.

Fish and Wildlife Director Has Gross Conflict-of-interests

Michael Sutton, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s and Gov. Jerry Brown’s commissioner appointee to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, is also the paid director of Audubon California, one of the two sponsors of AB 711, to kill hunting in California. As the commissioner of the California Fish and Game Commission, Sutton will be implementing the legislation.

Sutton’s Fair Political Practices Commission Form 700, Statement of Economic Interests reports, shows he is compensated by Audubon California and the Monterey Bay Aquarium — both animal rights supporters.

The National Audubon Society appointed Sutton as vice president of the Pacific Flyway the same time he was appointed executive director of Audubon California in May 2012.

“According to the Form 700 disclosure reports, Sutton currently receives more than $100,000 annual income from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation,” I wrote in December. “He also received a seven-year loan in 2010 of more than $100,000 from the aquarium foundation, with a 3.5 percent interest rate, for a personal residence.

Michael Sutton, Commissioner, Fish & Wildlife

Sutton also received more than $100,000 in income from the National Audubon Society in 2012, and income from the Monterey Bay Aquarium up to $100,000. And Sutton received a seven-year loan in 2010 of more than $100,000 from the aquarium foundation, with a 3.5 percent interest rate, for a personal residence.

Audubon California was one of the sponsors of AB 711.

Sutton had a paid summer faculty job at Vermont Law School, for which he was paid up to $10,000, the FPPC Form 700 disclosure report shows.”

Under pressure to pass AB 711 by the anti-gun lobby, environmentalists, the Audubon Society and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, the economic impact to California would be significant.

The department, formerly named the Department of Fish and Game when it was more friendly to hunters, tried for several years to ban lead ammunition in California, claiming the California Condor has been dying off because of lead bullets. Unable to mandate the ban, the agency turned to the Legislature. But charges of phony science plague the attempted ban.

Faulty science

“Many of the scientific papers used by anti-lead ammunition proponents to support lead ammunition bans have consistently been critiqued for questionable scientific practices,” according to “These researchers have used flawed scientific methodology and have selectively cherry picked data to support their preconceived conclusions, while routinely ignoring alternative sources of lead in the environment.”

Sam Paredes of Gun Owners of California, told me this isn’t the first attempt to falsely claim California Condors are being poisoned by hunters. Paredes said in 2007 the proponents of one of the nation’s first lead ammunition bans, AB 821, claimed that California condors were being poisoned by consuming hunters’ lead ammunition. They promised that, if hunters stopped using lead ammunition in the condor range, the lead poisoning would cease.

Blood-lead levels in California condors have not declined because condors are exposed to alternative sources of bioavailable lead, including documented evidence of lead paint chip and lead-contaminated microtrash ingestion.  The AB 821 lead ammunition ban (the Ridley-Tree Condor Preservation Act) has done nothing to prevent the alternative sources of lead in the condor zone.


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