A federal court on Thursday halted an effort by the Environmental Protection Agency to ban all ammunition containing lead, much to the dismay of gun control groups hoping to use environmentalism to “make an end run around the Second Amendment” right of access to ammunition, according to officials from several organizations representing gun owners and manufacturers.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that it had dismissed a lawsuit brought by the anti-hunting Center for Biological Diversity and six other left-wing groups which demanded that President Barack Obama’s powerful EPA ban traditional ammunition containing lead components.
Federal Judge Emmet G. Sullivan dismissed CBD’s lawsuit, finding that CBD’s current petition was nothing more than an attempt to seek reconsideration of their previous petition, which the EPA had denied. Judge Sullivan also indicated that he would defer to EPA’s determination that the agency was not congressionally authorized to regulate lead-based ammunition, according to the Institute for Legislative Action of the NRA.
Traditional ammunition represents 95 percent of the U.S. market and is the staple ammunition for target shooters, hunters and law enforcement, with more than 10 billion rounds sold annually, according to officials with the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
Last August, the NSSF had filed a motion to dismiss the federal lawsuit initiated by EPA attorneys at the behest of environmental and control activist groups.
But the federal court on Thursday agreed with NSSF and said that the EPA doesn’t possess the legal authority to regulate traditional firearms ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 mandated the EPA to protect the American public from “unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment” by regulating the manufacture and sale of chemicals. The TSCA attempted to exert direct government control over which types of chemicals could and could not be used in actual use and production.
In fact, the EPA had already twice denied attempts by CBD to have the agency ban traditional ammunition, and the court had dismissed an earlier case brought by CBD seeking the same relief.
“No doubt the CBD and the other groups will continue their efforts and perhaps hunt for judges who share their ideology,” said former police firearms trainer Marvin Wolinsky.
“We’ll keep fighting to ensure that America’s wildlife are no longer needlessly killed by the millions by lead ammunition,” said Bill Snape, senior counsel with the CBD.
“Congress clearly gave the EPA authority to regulate the toxic lead in hunting ammunition, the same way we got lead out of gasoline, paint and kids’ toys. It was really disturbing today to see the country’s most important environmental agency on the same side as the NRA, opposing commonsense measures to protect people and wildlife from lead poisoning,” he said in a statement.
“We are gratified that the court has found this second frivolous lawsuit, which is essentially the same as the one dismissed last year, was equally without merit,” said Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry.
“This was a waste of taxpayers’ dollars and EPA resources spent in having to defend a baseless lawsuit,” Keane added.