Federal Appeals Court Rules Against Regulating Lead Ammunition


If you’re a member of the civilian disarmament industrial complex, anything that makes owning and operating a firearm more difficult or expensive is a step in the right direction. If you can’t get something like universal background checks federally mandated — and they have no hope of even that in the foreseeable future — you try other avenues. Like the courts. One long-standing effort has been to classify lead bullets and shot as toxic in the hopes of getting the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate lead ammunition out of existence (see California). But today, the US District Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit slapped down tree huggers and gun grabbers alike by ruling “that environmental groups have suggested no way in which EPA could regulate spent lead bullets and shot without also regulating cartridges and shells.” That’s a problem because . . .

The Toxic Substances Control Act exempts cartridges and shells from regulation.

The National Rifle Association and much of the pro-gun lobby intervened on the EPA’s side in urging the federal appeals court to uphold the dismissal of a lawsuit by 101 environmentalist organizations.

“Given that bullets and shot can become spent only if they are first contained in a cartridge or shell and then fired from a weapon,” the environmental groups “have identified no way in which EPA could regulate spent bullets and shot without also regulating cartridges and shells,” precisely what the law prohibits, said the decision by appeals judge David Tatel, a nominee of President Bill Clinton. The other two judges on the case were Patricia Millett and Cornelia Pillard, both nominees of President Barack Obama.

Not the kind of Christmas present anti-gunners were hoping for.

Lawyers for the environmentalists say there are many effective alternatives, such as substituting copper for lead bullets and lead shot.

Gun supporters say ammunition manufactured with alternative materials is more costly to produce and sell than traditional ammunition.

It looks like gun owners have been on Santa’s nice list this year. Ho ho ho.   [h/t Dirk Diggler]


  1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Another win!
    Dang, this has been a pretty good year!

    1. avatar Chadwick P. says:

      Unless you are a fan of 5.45×39 7n6 surplus ammo or anything coming from Saiga or Vepr…

      1. avatar CarlosT says:

        Or live in Washington state.

        1. avatar BLAMMO says:

          Or New York.

        2. avatar Steve in MD says:

          Or Maryland

        3. avatar Lemming says:

          +1 Blammo. +1…..

        4. avatar Gearmoe says:

          You can say that again.

        5. avatar Jason says:

          Or California

    2. avatar Anonymous says:

      Not really wins to me – they are really just the absence of giving ground on this one issue. Meanwhile we are giving ground stateside. A win, to me, would be a repeal to a previously passed infringement.

  2. avatar Model 31 says:

    Also in the news:
    “…Congress approved the Fiscal Year 2015 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act. Included in the Act were a number of pro-gun provisions…the Act contains a new provision to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency, or any other federal agency, from regulating the lead content of traditional ammunition and fishing tackle..”

  3. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

    I wonder what Shannon is getting for Christmas?

    1. avatar BigDinVT says:

      Apoplexy (informal def.)…if there really IS a Santa Claus.

    2. avatar JackinAlabama says:

      Maybe a visit from Dirk D.? Would probably even her right out, and perhaps introduce a little realism into her fairytale world. Hey Dirk? I know it’d be a sacrifice, but would you take one for the team? Do it for the Gipper even? 😉

      Merry Christmas to all the PoTG everywhere!

  4. avatar ClockN says:

    So glad to see the court saw this as an infringement.

    1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

      This wasn’t a 2nd amendment decision, the law that established and regulates the EPA expressly forbids the EPA from regulating ammunition.

  5. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    Not to mention the tree huggers scream bloody murder whenever someone wants to open up a copper mine, despite the fact that their precious Priuses require more than twice as much copper as a conventional car.

  6. avatar Roymond says:

    So these lawyers and activists think they have a better idea. Why don’t they get together and start a company and make alternative ammo? I’m sure there’s a market for it.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      Some have.

      Bottom line, its expensive and doesn’t perform as well as lead…

      1. avatar eaglesnester says:

        I have been shooting with Barnes all copper bullets for about 10 years now. I shot my last moose with a 225 grain Barnes TSX. These bullets are very accurate, because of the inherit accuracy I was able to score a hit right between the eyes at over 200 meters and ruined no meat. Granted these bullets will not shoot well in all rifles and seem to perform the best in barrels with no pitting or rust what so ever and they are expensive

        Cheers & Tighter Groups: eaglesnester

  7. avatar Mark N. says:

    Whether there are acceptable alternatives, such as copper, is irrelevant to the question posed, which is whether the EPA has any statutory authority to regulate ammunition–which the Court of Appeals quite correctly concluded it did not. I thought the environmentalists had gone down this road before–and lost. if they want things to change, their remedy is Congress.

  8. avatar Bruce says:

    Copper is an effective alternative according to the Envirowhackos.
    Well, sure it is … “effective”, but hardly practical.
    Gold and silver are effective alternatives as well, but again… not practical.
    Then they lobby hard to shut down sources for the alternatives like the new copper mine being prepared in Arizona that is going to yield thousands of tons of quality copper ore.
    They will do anything and disregard reason in the process to force their will upon all of us.

    1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

      ‘Gold and silver are effective alternatives as well, but again… not practical.’

      When you’re staring down your sights at a vampire or werewolf whatever you paid for those silver bullets will seem like a bargain.

      1. avatar Simon Jester says:

        Silver for werewolves, UV light or wood for vampires. Or so my classical horror movies taught me, before we got Sparkly Fashion Model Vampires….*mumble mumble mumble*

        1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

          I always thought that too until I saw Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer.

      2. avatar Tim says:

        Can’t get silver bullets around here. Some masked guy called Lonnie Reinmere or Kimbo Savage or something like that bought them all.

    2. avatar John L. says:

      Depleted uranium works, too…

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        Yeah, depleted uranium makes a wicked nice AP round as long as its in a sabot…

        Bet they’d be nice as flechettes…Be awful rough on the bore, tho…

    3. avatar Dave Ki says:

      Sure copper and all that works, until they find some reason it’s not environmentally safe. Then they have a precedence too fall back on.

  9. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

    Lawyers in the house: NRA intervened on EPA’s side, is this one of those cases where EPA or other federal agency invites outside groups to sue them, so they can get a judge to “force” them to do what they really wanted to do all along, but perhaps didn’t have clear statutory authority to do?

    1. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

      I haven’t read the opinion yet, but as I understand it, the tree huggers sued the EPA to force them to regulate lead. Not sure if EPA “invited” the suits, but they did state they were limited by law to what they could do. NRA wrote an amicus for them, as did other groups, because it is nice when the law proscribes certain administrative action that such action is taken exactly as proscribed. . . . pure genius whomever put this restriction into the law originally.

    2. avatar John D. says:

      Yes. This was another example of the Washington ‘Fan Dance’ where a regulatory agency uses activist groups, which file a Federal lawsuit, to extend their authority beyond statute. Kudos to NRA and SAAMI for throwing sand into the gears of this fraud.

  10. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    Good…just think what control of both houses of congress may bring. Not hoping for a pro 2A pres.

  11. avatar cmeat says:

    nero fiddles.
    and rome burns.

  12. avatar dlj95118 says:

    …so, will this do anything positive for those of us stuck-behind-the-lines in Kalifornia?

    1. avatar B says:

      Only if things like CARB get slapped down first.

    2. avatar Dave Ki says:

      Isn’t that in around Kalistan?

  13. avatar John D. says:

    Note that this decision specifically covers lead in fixed ammunition. Reloading components and muzzleloading bullets made from lead could stilll be in jeopardy.

    1. avatar DJ9 says:

      I would think that reloading components would still be covered by the basic logic of the decision, reflected in the quote that begins: “Given that bullets and shot can become spent only if they are first contained in a cartridge or shell and then fired from a weapon,”.

      However, I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV (or the Internet), so…

  14. avatar BRY says:

    “[h/t ‘Dirk Diggler’]” Ho ho ho!

    1. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

      I am being good, but she did pop into my head first

      1. avatar Gs650g says:

        Go ahead and reverse that statement and it comes out differently

  15. avatar Jwestham2 says:

    Maybe we can work on getting steel core ammo back now

  16. avatar Gs650g says:

    The EPA famously invents powers and rules it does not have. This isn’t over by a country mile.

    1. avatar Stinkeye says:

      I think it is over, assuming it doesn’t go to the Supreme Court. The EPA was the defendant here – environmental groups were trying to force them to regulate lead ammo, and they resisted (because it’s written in law that the EPA can’t regulate ammo). The EPA won this suit, and that’s a good thing for us.

  17. avatar gemalo says:

    Damn, that’s a really nice pic up top!

  18. avatar ADC USN/Ret says:

    My question is; “Are the anti-gunners using this as just another method of making shooting more expensive?

    These idiots are disregarding the latest scientific research that says, ammunition lead is NOT the cause of much lead poisoning of wildlife.

    1. avatar Gearmoe says:

      The anti-gun groups have zero interest in facts or scientific study. If fact mattered WA State would not have passed a 2A infringing law.

  19. avatar Ray Ficara says:

    SCIENCE won over cooked stats and a concealed study? WOW the Left must be in a fetal position.

    Ray from Bloombergia
    NRA Life

  20. avatar Gearmoe says:

    The lead BS argument has gone on for quite some time and is beyond ridiculous. Still, this is how the anti’s operate. Dig, lie, dig some more.

    If lead was outlawed there is no question a polymer might replace. And much to the chagrin of the anti’s possibly be more lethal than lead ever was. Except, now the new product is on the market and in the hands of the bad guys.

  21. avatar Jason says:

    Can this set any precedent for repealing California’s “lead free” hunting zones?

    1. avatar Jason says:

      Or rather: “California, the lead free hunting zone.”

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