Canada’s gun lobby has come out against the removal of dangerous and poisonous lead from hunting bullets, using arguments similar to the NRA in the United States.

A new report from Environment and Climate Change Canada says the leading cause of lead-based release into the environment are from hunting bullets, with over 5,200 tonnes released annually. Consuming lead in game hunting can have serious health side effects, and lead from outdoor shooting ranges can leak into the soil and surrounding groundwater.

Momentum Against Lead Bullets

Canada isn’t alone in contemplating the elimination of lead-based bullets.

Governments around the world have recognized the dangers and have banned the use of lead bullets in hunting. Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands have made the usage of lead-based bullets illegal. California is also in the process of banning them.

Lead bullets were banned from U.S. federal wildlife reserves, up until 2017 when President Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke overturned the ban.

Canada’s Gun Lobby Copies NRA Talking Points

Gun lobby groups consistently oppose the ban. The NRA called it “unsound science”, claiming it was an “assault” on traditional hunting and hunter’s rights. They even launched a website called HuntForTruth.org attacking the plan.

Canada’s gun lobby is employing similar rhetoric to discredit the potential ban.

Head of the Canadian Sports Shooting Association (CSSA) and long-time gun lobby spokesperson Tony Bernardo called it “junk science”, and an attack on gun owners to “discourage shooting”. This echoes the NRA’s core argument that the science underpinning the proposed ban was unsound.

Similarities between the NRA and Tony Bernardo’s comments are unsurprising. The NRA has a history of involvement in Canada’s gun lobby community. During the gun registry debate, Bernardo claimed the NRA provided a “tremendous amounts of logistical support,” and that “they freely give us anything else”.

In fact, the CSSA used to feature an endorsement from NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre.

The Research is Clear – Ban Lead Bullets

But the research surrounding lead bullets isn’t junk science — in fact, the science is clear.

In 2016, over 4,000 tons of lead from bullets was released into the environment, resulting in the poisoning deaths of 20 million birds in the U.S.  Lead from bullets have poisoned America’s most popular hunting areas, and bullets are the single largest source of lead in the environment.

Gun owners also claim a ban on lead bullets would reduce gun usage. But studies and shooting data show this is incorrect.

In the US, lead bullets were phased out from waterfowl hunting with little impact on hunting volume.

Research also shows little evidence to support the claim that non-lead bullets are more expensive. And in the case where some bullets are more expensive, the cost is minimal. A story from Laura Geggel at Life Science showed that while a box of ammunition might cost $15 more in Chicago, most deer hunters go through one box of ammunition per season, meaning the cost has a minimal effect on hunting.

Much like the gun lobby, arguments against banning lead bullets are nothing but hot air.


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