Proposed federal lead ammunition bans and hunting access rules pending with U.S. Congress could have repercussions for Wyoming – including on millions of acres of public Bureau of Land Management land in the Rock Springs area.
For now, an effort to defund the Biden administration’s push to ban lead ammunition on some federal lands in the eastern United States has stalled, but it could be revived during upcoming Congressional budget sessions early next year, a Wyoming gun rights advocate told Cowboy State Daily.
“A lot of people are talking about this (proposed lead ban) as a hunting issue, but it affects recreational shooters as well,” said Mark Jones of Buffalo, director of hunting programs for Gun Owners of America (GOA).
Meanwhile, there also have been moves toward greater protection for hunter access to federal lands, which could have implications for the BLM’s controversial draft Rock Springs Resource Management Plan (RMP).
“We all know there’s threats to access for traditional access (in the RMP),” Jones said.
So, could a push in Congress for better hunting access on federal land elsewhere in the county change the direction of the RMP?
“I think it’s possible. I’m not going to predict that it will,” Jones said. “I think if the Republicans play their cards right, it could impact that.”
On the home front, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon recently appointed a task force of representatives from various interest groups to study the RMP and come up with recommendations that would be best for Wyoming.
Getting The Lead Out
A measure to defund the lead ammunition ban was recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives but stalled in the Senate, Jones said. That means it will likely be taken up again during the upcoming Congressional budget session in January or February.
Measures to protect hunting access could also be considered at that time, as well as a measure to defund a rule prohibiting hunters from carrying sidearms on lands controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers.
None of the lands in question are in Wyoming, but the outcome of all of them could affect the Cowboy State, Jones said.
“It’s part of Biden’s war on hunters. It’s just one thing after another,” he said.
Trouble Could Reach Wyoming
He pointed to a recent failed attempt to defund school archery and hunter education programs that have been targeted as “dangerous weapons training” as another example of what GOA sees as the Biden administration trying to undermine hunting and firearms rights, he said.
The proposed lead ammunition ban is in that same vein, Jones said. As GOA sees it, the attempt to ban the use of lead ammunition on some tracts of federal land in the Eastern United States could serve as a test case to expand that policy to other federal lands.
That could eventually include federal land in Wyoming, including the 3.6 million acres of BLM land managed out of the Rock Springs office, Jones said.
Pricing People Out?
Lead ammunition bans have been proposed on the claim that hunters’ lead bullets and shotgun pellets can poison wildlife, including raptors that eat the remains of big game carcasses.
GOA disputes that claim and thinks the lead bans are just another attempt to discourage participation in hunting and the shooting sports, Jones said.
There are alternatives to lead bullets, such as all-copper ammunition, for hunting rifles. But that ammunition is more expensive, so many shooters would find it too costly for regular target practice, he said.
“Some of us might go out and buy these bullets just for hunting elk, because you’re not going to need to use many of them,” but shooting hundreds of rounds for target practice wouldn’t be affordable, Jones said. “That’s really the goal of this, to price people out of participating in the shooting sports.”
The ban on hunters carrying handguns on Army Corps land also needs to be lifted because it runs counter to basic Second Amendment rights, Jones said.
“It’s kind of crazy, because you can carry a rifle or a shotgun for hunting on those lands, but you can’t carry a handgun for self-defense,” he said.
Mark Heinz can be reached at email@example.com.