USFWS Director Martha Williams
USFWS Director Martha Williams (courtesy Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks)
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The ATF isn’t the only federal regulatory agency that is newly dedicated to making life even more difficult and expensive for gun owners since the current occupant of the White House was inaugurated. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is also on board the hoplophobic express. They’d been hinting for months about once again mandating lead-free ammunition on private lands based on sketchy claims that using lead-free ammunition benefits wildlife.

The USFWS had tried to slip in a similar ban in the last days of the Obama administration, but it was reversed when Trump took office.

Yesterday, the USFWS published its new proposed rule which would ban lead ammo and fishing tackle by the end of 2026. The NSSF released this statement in response . . .

NSSF, the firearm and ammunition industry trade association, categorically rejects the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Proposed Rule (PR) published today. The Proposed Rule would improperly trade access to public lands in exchange for a ban on traditional ammunition made with lead components which has no scientific basis and would disenfranchise the outdoorsmen and women who support and fund conservation.

“This is a Faustian bargain that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “The Service isn’t following the science and isn’t serving those who invest their dollars to perpetuate wildlife conservation. Instead, this Proposed Rule serves special interest anti-hunting groups to the detriment of conservation-minded hunters and anglers.”

The USFWS announced new proposed hunting and fishing opportunities for game species at 19 national wildlife refuges on approximately 54,000 acres nationwide. Slipped into that proposal, though, is a phased ban of traditional ammunition by 2026. The USFWS, according to their press release, indicated that this measure is based on the best scientific data available, however no data indicates that traditional ammunition is causing population declines of any wildlife species at any of the refuges.

The anti-hunting Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed a petition yesterday with the Department of the Interior calling for a Director’s Order requiring the phaseout of traditional ammunition on the entire Refuge System and initiate formal rulemaking to phase out traditional ammunition by Sept. 30, 2024. The timing of CBD’s petition raises questions about whether it was filed to coincide with today’s proposed rule. CBD had earlier sued USFWS in federal court in Montana seeking a ban on traditional ammunition for hunting on federal lands. Rather than moving to dismiss the case, the Service immediately entered into settlement discussions with CDB that are ongoing.

The USFWS announced earlier this year that a record-breaking $1.5 billion was apportioned to the states for conservation projects, of which $1.1 billion was directly tied to Pittman-Robertson excise taxes paid by firearm and ammunition manufacturers. Hunters and recreational shooters support conservation when they purchase these products. The ban on traditional ammunition would force hunters to use non-lead alternatives which cost more and are much harder to find than traditional ammunition.

The Obama administration attempted a similar ban on traditional ammunition on the final day of the administration. Then-USFWS Director Dan Ashe signed an order in the waning hours of the administration that banned the use of traditional ammunition on federal lands without consulting with state wildlife managers or conservation groups. Like the Proposed Rule, that order had no foundation in science and was repealed by former Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke as his first official act on his first day in office.

NSSF calls on USFWS Director Martha Williams to follow the science of wildlife management and abandon this attempt to disenfranchise outdoorsmen and women and put the interest of true conservationists over special interest ant-hunting groups. NSSF urges all outdoorsmen and women to register their concerns with this policy posted on the Federal Register before Aug. 8, 2022.

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94 COMMENTS

  1. Anti hunting groups have gotten into government through the Democrat Party. The agenda is to make it more and more expensive to hunt and they can do that through the lead bullet ban!

    • Well well well…Gun Control comes knocking on the doors of some in the “huntin crowd” who roll over like puppy dogs for magazine bans and proclaim, “if you can’t get it done with 10 rounds you can’t get it done.”

      Yes there is a segment of hunters who just stay quiet while the rights of others are targeted by Gun Control ratbassturds. Not all of them but there are some real works of art in the huntin crowd. Since I’ve watched gasbags sit around while the rights of others were attacked I’ll throw a rope only on the behalf of hunters who deserve it.

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  2. …and *that’s* gonna make ammo expensive, and less affordable… 🙁

    • Here in CA you can still target shoot with lead. And self defense ammo can still be lead. It’s only hunting ammo that is non lead. If you’re not a hunter there will be no immediate effect on you.

      • It’s the “foot in the door”, the “camel’s nose under the tent”, just one more little piece of straw on your back. These people aren’t stupid. They know that gun owners always give a little every time.
        Now it’s only public lands.
        Next, it will be private lands adjoining public lands.
        Then, private lands that under a government contract : CRP, woodland management, pollinator habitat initiative, etc.
        Then, if it saves one coyote……

      • oh but it DOES affect ALL of us. Some bine whastards are playing Clward Piven and Saul Alinsky games, and will stop at nothing to harrass, anger, crimp, hurt, enrage, pester, dump on anyone who has anything to do with guns. You will remember the eold WW 2 meme.. they came for the Jews, I’m not one so I stood quiet. They came for the protestants, I’m not one of them, so I stood quiet. They came for the old, but I’m still young so I kept my peace. Then they came for ME and there was no one to stand up for ME.

        Do unto others…….

        These dirtbags are meddlers, control freaks, and are on a roll thinking now that Dopey Joey is asleep aat the wheel its now time to pull out all the stops and make as much trouble as they can.

        I’ve seen the science on lead shot in waterfowl areas, and lead hollow pount hunting ammo in forest lands, What they are doing is total fabrication, and they KNOW it. But they moan and scream and yell and stamp their feet oh my oh my and press on regardless.
        Time to do some wing clipping…….

      • jwm,

        What they APPEAR to be calling for is an outright ban on lead ammunition, and this is federal, not state. “Slipped into that proposal, though, is a phased ban of traditional ammunition by 2026.” Now, the devil is in the details, but the Obummer-era proposed ban did, in fact, ban the manufacture and sale of lead-based ammunition. Don’t know where this proposed legislation/rulemaking will end up, but I’m not as prepared to be “so what” about this. Until there is a VIABLE non-lead alternative that is economically reasonable, this could amount to a substantial regulatory “tax” on ammunition, for no demonstrable benefit.

        Not saying we need to light our hair on fire, just saying this isn’t as benign as you are assuming. Happy to wait and see what they actually propose, but there are disturbing signs, and we absolutely know what the “agenda” of the Leftist/fascists is.

        • I didn’t mean to sound so relaxed about the situation. I was just explaining what the ammo situation was like here in CA.

      • Actually it does effect you if your just a shooter. This ban will begin the prohibition of lead ammo in National Forest land where many people go to shoot.

        • Limited effect if you are in the northeast (have fun finding a place to shoot rifles) but east of the Mississippi absolutely.

  3. I’d be willing to reload with steel bullets – but my burner doesn’t get hot enough to melt steel. What are my options here?

    • Computer controlled lathe will spit out steel bullets in any form you want. Then you can plate with copper or dip in teflon at your leisure before use.

      • and HOW many dead Benjamins do I have to pile up to purchase such a lathe?
        At that point I might as well crowd on all sail and go ahead and make mu own guns, too. Plenty of scrap steel lyhing about on the porperty here.

    • Continue to use the bullets you have already been using.
      Tell these city slickers to stick it where the sun don’t shine.
      It’s called civil disobedience.
      If you allow them to set this policy you are opening yourself up for more regulation.

      When will you decide enough is enough?

      • then the game wardens will cite you and you’ll rack up the fines and eventually lose your hunting privileges.

        • Make sure the first round in the mag is compliant. Maybe load a dummy. When he checks you out, you’re “clean”. If yuo do lose your hunting “priviledges” poaching is always an option, too. They want ounishment and/or civil dispbedience, let em have it.

          There is also another set of actions, but I will not go into those. Somehow the subject of tea comes into dim foggy view…….

  4. Thank you to all the gun owners who voted against Donald Trump for re-election.
    Because he banned the bump stock. Something that none of you supported anyway. You certainly have never supported the wide spread ownership of machine guns to the General Public. Or because he would not legalize drugs. Because he saw his older brother destroyed by them.
    Or for whatever reason you used to convince yourself that Joe Biden was better on guns than president Trump.

    From 2017

    “Trump’s Interior Secretary Reverses Lead Ammo Ban”

    https://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/trumps-interior-secretary-reverses-lead-ammo-ban/

    I lost my bump stock in a boating accident. But I still voted for Donald Trump for re-election.

    I lost my bump stock in a boating accident. But I still voted for Donald Trump for re-election.
    Back when gasoline was way under $2 a gallon. And the United States became the largest exporter of oil. At the same time we had just about 100% full employment in this country. And there were no new wars.

    • All those, “true conservatives,” strangely disappeared entirely now that we’re two years into this Biden nonsense.

    • Trump was an A-Hole, but I didn’t vote for him because he was a lovable little kitty. I voted for him because the Democrats were criminally evil. I do not regret my vote. I know many democrats who regret theirs.

      • ” It’s not how the people vote, it’s who counts the votes”. Nothing has been done to prevent the computerized fraudulent vote flipping so it will happen again.

      • I am with you, Kyle. I keep telling folks I didn’t vote for Trump because I thought he was the best, I voted for Trump because I KNEW that Joe Biden would be so much worse. And it seems that time has proven my guess correct.

    • It wasn’t not enough people voting for him that caused Trump to lose. It was fraud that caused Trump to lose.

    • Excellent point. TTAG commentors have been criminally stupid at times with their anti-Trump rhetoric. The Biden admin is a dumpster fire. There is literally nothing better politically in my life under the Biden campaign. Also I doubt we’ll ever know how many mail in ballots have been purchased, copied, generated, and falsified.

  5. I’ve been shooting birds, small and large game with lead for decades. You know how I avoided lead poisoning? I spit the lead shot out. Are these people just plain stupid?

  6. But, but, but…….we aren’t taking anyone hunting rifles away, just Assault Weapons……..we are gonna ban 70% of ammo for hunting though…….and fishing tackle too (that’s what you call insult to injury).

  7. And it is interesting that lead is a natural occurring element in the ground. Just change the label on lead 100% organic.

  8. Looks like 22 WMR and 17 HMR is about to become a lot more popular. It seems that for whatever reason, 22 LR can’t accommodate a lead free bullet with performance on par with standard loads. I suspect it may have to do with the tiny case capacity, the fact that so many very old firearms chambered in 22 LR exist, slow twist rate, something else, or a combination of factors. But either way, lead free loads give up a lot. Especially at longer ranges.

    • Copper can’t match lead for weight or mass. A copper .22 bullet that weighs 29 grains takes up the same space as a 40 grain lead round.

      To make a 40 grain copper .22 it would be an extra long bullet. How that would work in chambers and actions I do not know. You can’t put the bullet deeper in the case because the .22 is a ‘heeled’ bullet design.

      • I’ve seen subsonic .22 LR rounds with extra-short cases to handle larger bullets (because unlike most rounds, the exterior bullet diameter of a .22 LR is the same as the case), but that obviously entails less powder. Catch-22.

      • “Copper can’t match lead for weight or mass“

        Actually, the word you’re looking for is ‘density’.

        • Trying to sound intelligent yet he’s a biden supporter. People figured out what I meant, nancy.

        • Jay-bird, let me ask you a question.

          Which is heavier, a pound of feathers or a pound of gold?

        • Thanks for proving your ignorant stupidity ONE MORE TIME, MinorIQ. Was it that you flunked high school physics, or just never took it???

          Gold, you ignorant ass, is weighed in Troy ounces; feathers (and other dry goods) are weighed in avordupois. Exercise for the student: What is the weight, in grams of one ounce, Troy? What is the weight, in gram of one ounce, avordupois?? How many ounces in “one pound”, Troy?? How many ounces in one pound, avordupois??

          You are literally too stupid to insult, you ignorant @$$. Go back to your circle jerk, you partisan buttnugget.

  9. Here in CA lead was banned for all hunting a number of years ago. I use all copper bullets in my .243. At the time that the lead ban went into effect we could still mail order ammo here and there was no shortages. I stocked up. At the time the non lead ammo was about 2 dollars a round. I could not tell you about prices or availability these days. Because we can still target shoot with lead I stocked up on cheaper ammo for practice.

    A lot of my hunting is with shotguns. I have a couple of 20’s that were my favorites for rabbit and quail. Steel shot out of a 20 is just not as effective as lead. I do all my shotgun hunting with a 12 now.

    • What kind of ammo do rifle hunters use? What kind of Shotgun Slugs?

      How do Copper Bullets perform out of your .243?

      I’m honestly curious given how I don’t understand how people hunt in California now given the lead ban..

      • For .243 and .308 the copper works fine. I keep my shots under 300 yards. My son uses the .308.

        Slugs are a different matter. Zinc slugs suck. Copper slugs with sabots work well out of rifled barrels but are ghastly expensive. Or at least they were when we tried them some years back.

        • do the copper slugs expand to provide a quicker more reliable kill? Or are tey like the old FMJ and just poke holes on their way out?

        • The copper shotgun slugs we only used on paper targets to see if they were accurate. They were. Too expensive for routine use. Never hunted with them.

  10. The FWS had nothing to do with this decision. They’re following the guidelines the UN mandated.

    The UN’s ban on lead is worldwide and their stated reason is “because it is toxic to people and animals.”

    The real reason the UN wants to ban lead worldwide is so you can’t cast bullets. They’re afraid their blue helmet boys would be far more likely to take one up the Khyber if you can make your own bullets.

  11. Martha Williams is a very liberal professor at one of the most liberal law schools in the country. The liberals took control of the University of Montana years ago and it is dominated by students from back East. Montana does NOT have a law school that represents Montana at all. Williams is from back East and went to undergraduate school at U of Va. She is a typical Montana law school graduate as she hates the West and the people from there.

    • That script has played out all over the country. Did you really think the coastal elites would let us “rubes” decide stuff for ourselves? Oh no…we need to be told what to do but the more enlightened…

    • Martha doesn’t look like a Martha to me. She looks more like her name used to be Mark or something.

  12. And this is a surprise? If they can’t get the guns, go after the ammunition. You can own any gun you want, but good luck finding anything to load it with. And, if you can find approved ammo, it will cost too much to use/purchase.

    • That was the original plan to subdue we Yanks way back when. A gu named Tom Gage came up with that idea. He staged a series of “powder raids” to disarm the colonials, realising there was no way he could limit the guns they had, cause they’d just build more in their workshops. (sound like anything going on today?) So he realised if he could seize the gunpowder, and as much of the shot as he could, we couldn’t shoot back. First such raid seemed a success, till the guys he ripped off overtook the fort where Gage had had the powder stored. Next one, they got the powder and shot, but the COlonials got there before they’d moved it awau stood their ground demanding it back, accompanied by superior VERY determined force. NExt one they found out before it was too late, snuck all the powder out the back door of the powderhouse before they got there.. they inspected the powder magazine, found it empty, and went home, likely sensing they’d been had. Fourth one we all know about, Lexington and Concord. THAT turned out to be a debacle of the First Order… he not only got NO powder, only destroyed two small cannon, got no long guns, and lost a third of his officers and aquarter of his foot, skulking back most of the way to Boston being harried and tormented all the way.
      Now the real war was on, and the Colnials began to secure powder and shot from the Froggies, and eventually began making it here. It took ten years, but we ran them out. They tried to come back for a rematch some twenty years later, but we kicked them back home once more. Down the Mississippi nd back to Blighty. Where theyve mostly stayed quiet and docile until recently.

      • With help from France, and because Britain was fighting another war at the time. Same with 1812, which was more complex because the Canadians ran us out for attacking them.

  13. This is just another way to make shooting more expensive. It has nothing to do with science. If they could ban people from urinating and defecating, in order to save the environment, they would ban that too.

    • They know exactly what the “save the environment” scam is and it’s one of the most profitable scams in the history of the universe.

      And they assume nobody ever learned about the respiratory cycle of a plant in school.

      • or water cyces, or carbon cycles, or oxygen cycles, or temperature cycles……. maybe unicycles, as befits the circus they are trying to organise.

    • It’s so nice to hear the informed opinion of an expert in BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY that is confident to go against known an so far undisputable evidence. Lead DOES poison the environment and toxic to ALL FAUNA. That’s why is was banned in both FUEL and PLUMBING long ago.
      There is actually some eveidence the LEAD PLUMBING played no small part in the fall of the ROMAN EMPIRE when those in authority, and subsequently the most able for afford PLUMBING went quite literally ‘of unsound mind. ‘ It’s more than probability a coincidence that those at the top of the Roman Tree made some very very strange descisions. None more so than various Emperors.
      It’s no more odd than say concerns abot MERCURY contamination in some fish.

      • Ok, how about hearing from a physicist.. i will use short words, just for you. lead is not just lead. The toxicity depends on how it is bound up with other things.. what we care about us what is called its bioavailability. Lead paint, leaded gasoline, etc.. are examples of what can be called industrial lead. That is highly bioavailable, and neurons are more than happy to grab lead rather than calcium, resulting in what you call lead poisoning. Long term ingestion of small amounts of lead that has been dissolved into a solvent, like lead pipes or pewter have a cumulative effect. Metallic lead, that is chunks of just lead or a simple alloy such as a bullet, is INERT. It is not readily bioavailable. If eaten it will pass right through. It can sit in the ground and will not migrate. The only danger from metallic lead is being struck with a chunk moving at a high velocity.

        • There you go, trying to use actual facts which make sense. The anti-2A types and anti-hunting types (often one and the same) don’t care about facts. They only care about how they “feel” about it (in other words, what they’re told). Please note, I understand what you are saying and I know you are correct, though.

  14. Yet another example of lunatics running the asylum. The coming electoral changes can’t come soon enough.

  15. Enough of all the ‘bitchin’….”And *then* what are you prepared to do? If you open the can on these worms you must be prepared to go all the way. Because they’re not gonna give up the fight, until one of you is dead.” – Sean Connery as Malone in “The Untouchables”

    The question I have for the 2A supporters…are you willing to go against the city slickers at the US Fish and Wildlife in DC? Are you willing to go to jail and forgo whatever life you have to fight for the principle? Are all of us willing to continue to exercise our God-given rights to hunt and fish? If not, then just bend over and be sure to touch your toes and say “Hit me harder Uncle Joe!”

    • By all means, Matt07924, tell us all EXACTLY what each of us should be physically doing to straighten out all this mess. I can’t be the only one who would love for someone to let us all in on the plan.

      • “I can’t be the only one who would love for someone to let us all in on the plan.”

        I don’t care about the plan. Just wanna know when food and drink are served.

        And that there will be loud background noise.

  16. When a federal agency is charged with regulating something, regulation is required. Go quiet, and your budget shrinks (along with whatever bragging rights you agency might have acquired). Stasis is not a benign condition for government regulators.

    Following the science of land conservation is not embedded in the Fish and Feathers charter.

  17. I give it 2 years at most until the EPA passes a “regulation” (Law on behalf of Dictator in the WH) BANNING all lead ammo manufacturing.

    • they’re already HERE, right NOW.
      this wench is one of them, Dopey Joey is another, the ^ Jan committee are a dozen more, the BeeYellEmm are thousands more, and the Auntie Fae more thousands. Many big city mayors are as well, along with their council creatures lurking in the shadows behind them.
      READ your history. It IS repeating. As ever.

  18. I shoot a flintlock, copper and anything but round ball don’t work hardly at all. Groups go from sub minute of angle to over four minutes of angle and worse. That’s just changing from round ball to lead conical. A sabot copper load I cannot imagine how that would play. Bottom line, they can kiss my ass, not one more inch.

    • No thats, ” I used to shoot a flintlock. ”
      Seems to me ‘they’ aren’t satisfied until we’re hunting with a pointy stick, and even with that they will regulate, length, weight, and sharpness. ,,,, No scratch that, sticks are made out of wood, wood comes from trees, save a tree, save the planet, so no pointy sticks either. Maybe a rock, but not a rock from a rock quarry, that would have to come from a hole in the ground, cant have holes in the ground, environmental issues with that.
      Save the Planet

  19. It is an undoubted FACT that LEAD does poison the environment it is NOT a bloodybtheory . That’s what LEAD was banned from Auto fuels a long time ago and lead pipes removed from PLUMBING.
    In the UK and Europe such was the LEAD contamination in wetlands that several species or WILD LIFE mainly bottom feeding WILD FOWL and FISH EATERS were in danger of extinction througfh LEAD POISONING THAT’s A FACT and easily ascertained Before criticism you really should look at the SCIENCE instead of just naysaying.
    And you have to appreciate that the level of ‘shooting’ in the UK and Europe is but a tiny fraction of that in the USA. For instance there is nowhere near the level of HAND GUN and RIFLE in Europe, or I suspect anywhere in the Civilised World, use so the impetus was towards SHOTGUNS. I’ve not witnessed much opposition to the banning of lead in shotguns in the UK.

    • Albert the Subject,

      “I’ve not witnessed much opposition to the banning of lead in shotguns in the UK.”

      Asked you for citations for these “unquestionable” studies above, but trust me, they ain’t. On the other hand, the quoted sentence from a subject to free citizens speaks volumes. You sound like a court eunuch trying to sell a whole man on the “benefits” of castration. I’ll pass on your unscientific, anti-freedom bullshit, thanks very much, subject. Go tell your queen to give you some more talking points, subject. If they include more “unquestionable” studies, or mention the U.N. AT ALL, save yourself the trouble, and just fold them until they are all corners, and stick them up your slave arse.

    • I’d go for waterfowl eating lead pellets maybe but ain’t no way it effects upland hunting. Copper bullets, yay, wait until everyone is using electric cars. Wont be no copper for bullets or brass.

  20. Well, lead has traditionally been used because of its weight; if Ms. (Mr?) UglyPuss has a valid concern, then rather than triggering him/her, I, for one, am perfectly willing to switch to depleted uranium.

    • Nah, dense enough, but too hard. Would wear out a rifle barrel in a hundred rounds. Plus, there’s the whole thing about DU being flammable. Hmm. Incendiary rounds?? Not so good for hunting game, but great for hunting blue helmets.

  21. Now it’s a lead ban on public land, how about we see what the public thinks of it.
    Hunters and fishers need to wake up to the facts of this administration’s tactics.
    Not one more inch. Allow them nothing.
    Take back our country. When we get congress back tell them their political future depends on it.

  22. I have a hard time getting upset about this particular mandate.

    We know lead is a harmful chemical. Can’t really dispute that. Considering where we are with material sciences, I’m a little surprised alternatives aren’t already more available.

  23. This will be super enforceable…… I’ve been hunting/fishing public land for 30yrs. I’ve seen a conservation officer (what we call them in MI) a grand total of once, and man was I glad that I put back the 12lb walleye that I’d hooked on a steelhead plug 5 minutes before he showed up.

  24. First the ATF, now Fish and Wildlife – our government’s regulatory agencies have been co-opted by leftist appointees who are serving their radical agenda.

    VOTE THESE SCUM OUT.
    Mobilize, get out there and actually vote. Voter turnout is abysmal. If we actually showed up in numbers we could easily crush these proto-communists.

  25. I read a study about wetlands where lead shot was banned. The ducks began to die very fast. Autopsy found they were swallowing the steel shot and getting ulcers whereas when they swallowed lead shot they tolerated it. Next they tested bismuth. The ducks were healthier than the ones given ceramic shot to eat and it turned out it soothes their gizzards.

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