Any proposed ban on lead ammunition could lead to ranges being closed because alternatives have unknown ricochet characteristics, the NRA warned today.
“There is a real risk that lead ammunition could be banned as a result of an ill-considered report now largely condemned by its own panel of experts,” NRA chief executive Andrew Mercer said, writing on the NRA website.
Sporting readers will be well aware of the Lead Ammunition Group. According to the Countryside Alliance:
The LAG was set up under the Labour Government in 2010 at the behest of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the RSPB, on the back of scientific evidence from America, to advise Defra on any risks to wildlife, human health and livestock from the use of lead ammunition, and how to mitigate them. It has not yet produced a report.
Earlier this year the group broke up after its chairman, John Swift, appeared to side with the anti-shooting lobby by recommending restrictions on lead ammunition in the face of clear evidence that it poses no harm to human health when used to shoot edible quarry for the pot.
According to a statement from the Countryside Alliance, issued when their then chairman quit the LAG in disgust at alleged abuses of process by its chairman John Swift:
Sir Barney White-Spunner [the then CA chairman] said: “The Chairman circulated a draft Lead Ammunition Group Report in April in which the majority of the group had no part in drafting. That document is very far from a reflection of the LAG’s discussions and draws incorrect conclusions from that evidence which the LAG has agreed. More seriously, many of those conclusions are based on evidence that the LAG has simply not agreed and were presented to the rest of the group as a fait accompli.”
A more comprehensive overview of the use of lead ammunition is available on the CA website.
Any ban on lead ammunition would be likely to affect target shooters by prohibiting the vast majority of target bullets. Moving to alternatives would be very difficult, as, in the words of the NRA’s Mercer: “Just as serious would be the impact of mono metallic bullets as their variable ricochet characteristics would result in greater restrictions (and probable closure) on many ranges.”
Monometallic bullets, other than solid lead, are banned from use on Bisley (and Pirbright) ranges. This is because solid non-lead bullets are an unknown quantity which may have greatly increased ricochet characteristics which could exceed the available air danger height, which cannot be increased due to the proximity of Farnborough Airport. Regular Bisley shooters will know that light aircraft and small jets overfly the ranges as they approach Farnborough to land.
What we know about lead and jacketed lead bullets’ impact and ricochet characteristics has been established by 150 years of research and learning. All UK range danger areas are built to contain high velocity rifle rounds that may ricochet from surfaces in the arc of fire, which are built to minimise the odds of lead/jacketed lead bullets from ricocheting in the first place. Those calculations may no longer be valid if different materials need to be used after a lead ban.
Moreover, research to establish new safe ricochet parameters for new bullets in common calibres is likely to be very expensive and very time-consuming, meaning civilian shooters will be unable to shoot before it is published and accepted by range operators, such as the MoD, and their insurers.
The NRA, along with other shooting organisations, is urging shooters to sign a petition to keep all lead ammunition. It can be found here.