Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Misfires w/ Junk Science On Ammo Ban

By Matt Manda

I am with Stupid Democrats

In a demonstration that America’s outdoors and recreational shooting sports pastimes still bring people together, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 615 in a bipartisan vote, sending the Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act over to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

The bill is strongly supported by NSSF and would require the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture to provide site-specific peer-reviewed scientific data that demonstrates traditional lead ammunition or fishing tackle is causing detrimental wildlife population impacts before prohibiting their use on federal lands.

That’s pretty straight forward and it certainly makes sense to “follow the science” before implementing any detrimental policy.

Except that’s not what has happened under President Joe Biden’s administration. Actually, the exact opposite has taken place.

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) spoke out against H.R. 615 in a House Rules Committee hearing prior to the legislation’s passage. During her testimony, the progressive firebrand recited a false statement that is demonstrably proven untrue by any examination of the data available about traditional lead ammunition.

Thankfully cooler and more knowledgeable heads prevailed and the bill, sponsored by outdoor advocate and House Natural Resources Committee member Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), is moving on.

Poison Hysterics

There’s hardly a gun control restriction that wouldn’t garner Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s support and a ban on tradition lead ammunition is just that – an anti-hunting, anti-gun restriction that would have dramatic negative impacts on wildlife conservation efforts.

The congresswoman pleaded with committee members.

“H.R. 615 would prohibit the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service from prohibiting or regulating lead ammunition or tackle on federal lands and waters – even though alternatives do exist that do not poison everything in sight,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez read. Republicans on the Natural Resources Committee, she said, “are putting forward an agenda brought to you by G.O.P. – guns, oil and polluters.”

The problem with Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s argument is that her so-called “facts” come from gun control activists and anti-hunting apostles set on eliminating hunting and restricting gun use, data and science be damned. Her two-pronged assessment is wrong on both accounts.

Double Dose of Deception

Numerous studies have shown that requiring the use of alternative ammunition would put a significant cost barrier to participation in hunting and fishing on public lands. Alternative ammunition is, on average, 25 percent more expensive than traditional ammunition and less available to find on retail counters. That barrier would “price out” many hunters and anglers and decrease the excise tax funding paid by firearm and ammunition manufacturers they support. And it’s not just an American issue, either. Data from the European Shooting Sports Forum in 2021 revealed that if a near-total ban on lead ammunition were instituted there, approximately one-in-four hunters would completely stop participating in hunting.

And that’s the goal. Alternative ammunition is so fervently pushed by Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and her anti-hunting, anti-gun allies because they know it would lead to dramatically fewer hunters. That’s their endgame.

The Congresswoman’s “poison everything in sight” remark is false as well. The facts are clear – traditional ammunition has been used in North America for over 400 years and there has never been one case of an individual suffering lead poisoning due to the consumption of wild game taken with lead ammunition. That’s not firearm industry “propaganda,” either. Accusations of denying science fall flat when studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2008 found that blood-lead levels in hunters consuming wild game harvested using traditional ammunition were actually lower than individuals in the same community that didn’t consume wild game. The CDC study showed that no hunters using traditional ammunition had elevated blood-lead levels even approaching the threshold of concern.

If Rep. Ocasio-Cortez still can’t be bothered to study the science, maybe she can look on the opposite side of the country in California – politically much more aligned with her progressive views – and see what has happened there. The Golden State implemented a lead ammunition ban statewide in 2019 and there is near 99-percent compliance rate with the ban among hunters. It’s been more than four full years but anti-hunting activists continue to blame traditional ammunition made with lead components for the deaths of the scavenger birds like the California Condor.

But even local media reports that after being extinct in the wild in the 1980s, California Condors number more than 300 in the wild today. That’s in addition to Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland announcing in a 2020 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) report that there are 71,400 nesting pairs of American bald eagles in the lower 48 states, and more than 316,000 individual birds. The bald eagle population has quadrupled since 2009 leading Sec. Haaland to deem bald eagle recovery as “one of the most well-known conservation success stories of all time.”

Despite what Rep. Ocasio-Cortez spouts, the science in crystal clear: American wildlife populations are healthy and American hunters – using traditional ammunition – have played the most significant role in that development.

Secretary Haaland Questioned

Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t the only one to appear before a congressional committee to address the Biden administration’s push for traditional ammunition bans, including the most recent “bait-and-switch” ploy announced by USFWS. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland appeared in front of the House Natural Resources Committee for a hearing on oversight and Rep. Wittman criticized the Biden administration’s continued push for banning traditional lead ammunition on public lands, demanding answers from the secretary. It did not go well for her.

“Can you tell me when you make a decision to ban lead in ammunition and fishing sinkers on a large number of refuges, can you cite the science you use for how there’s specific impacts on these properties and the resources on those properties? Because there’s nothing that I’ve seen that’s been published or that is out there that has been part of that decision making,” Rep. Wittman asked.

The secretary waffled and recited the same talking points, stating that “the best available data” shows that lead has had “negative impacts” on wildlife and human health. Rep. Wittman was having none of it and criticized her speaking in generalities.

“Can you name the studies and the specific authors of the studies, the journals that they’re published in to show the risk that is shown scientifically?” he pushed.

“I can’t cite those for you at the moment,” Secretary Haaland admitted. She promised to get back to the congressman after the hearing with the requested studies and citations but no one should hold their breath. Because those studies don’t exist.

True Conservationists

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, Secretary Haaland and others who continue to push out America’s hunters on public lands better be careful – they could get what they wish for. That would be truly devastating for the very outdoors and public lands that millions of Americans cherish and visit every year – hunters and non-hunters alike.

The firearm and ammunition industry, supported by millions of hunters and outdoor recreational shooters, has contributed over $27 billion, when adjusted for inflation, towards wildlife management and conservation projects back in the states. No other group is more responsible for the resounding comeback and thriving populations for America’s wildlife populations – including bald eagles, California condors and more.

Pushing to eliminate hunting and fishing on public lands – activities which are enjoyed by Americans who own the public lands – is anti-science, anti-hunting and anti-outdoors.

About The National Shooting Sports Foundation

NSSF is the trade association for the firearm industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearm retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations, and publishers nationwide. For more information, visit

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