California’s latest lead ammunition bill, AB 3071, authored by State Assemblyman and Speaker Pro Tem Kevin Mullin, is a misguided solution that threatens to throw gun rights and conservation into chaos.
Mullin was supposedly approached by the media because of a lead-poisoning incident; then, instead of referring it to the designated regulatory authorities, Mullin took it upon himself to jump to the conclusion that the operation of every police and recreational range facility in California must be red-taped to death.
The bill would make it illegal to use lead ammunition at any sporting range or indoor range in California. It falsely asserts that the only way to prevent hazardous lead exposure at shooting ranges is to not allow it at all.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration say otherwise. Both federal agencies publish guidelines on the safe management of lead exposure specifically for shooting ranges that, if followed properly, ensure the safe use of such ammunition on sporting, law-enforcement and military ranges.
Mullin’s bill completely ignores the fact that shooting ranges are a highly regulated industry when it comes to safety and maintenance. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), for example, published a 40-page manual on the management and mitigation of lead at indoor shooting ranges. The NSSF’s manual contains recommended methods for indoor ranges that includes information on human risks, sources of lead, OSHA’s industry standards for lead, exposure monitoring, air monitoring for lead, hygiene practices, protective work clothing, worker information and training, lead medical programs and more. Most significantly, many of the advisors credited with contributing to the NSSF’s manual are from the U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA.
And that’s just the federal level. Mullin’s bill further fails to note that additional oversight and supervision also falls to state and local governments that implement licensing and inspection protocols. California has a network of inspectors.
As Speaker Pro Tem, Mullin is in a position to inquire with these agencies and their experts who would certainly be available to consult about present regulations and potential consequence effects.
AB 3071 explicitly says it applies to all sporting ranges and indoor ranges as defined by California Civil Code Section 3482.1. This is not a small matter. This would impact every range, including law-enforcement ranges.
Imagine police officers not being able to fire their service ammunition because a sweeping law makes firing such ammunition illegal at ranges where they train. Bear in mind that the many police departments rent time at commercial facilities and that many private clubs donate time to law enforcement for SWAT and sniper training. This legislation would end all of that.
Most dedicated police department ranges would also be impacted by this bill. They are mostly indoor ranges and already fall within California’s regulation and inspection process.
Imagine millions of private firearms rendered useless because the ammunition they use cannot be fired at any range facility. Where will all these people and cops go to hone their skills and practice the safe handling of their firearms?
Intended or not, this is a de facto back door form of gun control, and would undoubtedly have a negative impact on firearm safety.