As expected: here comes the masterplan for a full ban of lead in ammunition from ECHA at EU level in all environments

As widely foreseen, after banning leadshot in wetlands, the EU does not stop its ideological crusade against sport shooters and hunters, the ultimate goal being a full ban on lead ammo. This will include any kind of lead bullet/projectile used in air rifles, guns, pistols and even historical weapons such as muzzle-loaders and historical firearms.  

At the request of the European Commission, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has in fact just submitted a proposal to restrict the placing on the market and use of lead in ammunition (gunshots and bullets) and fishing tackle in terrains other than wetlands within the framework of a so-called Annex XV dossier and its Annex in accordance with the REACH Regulation.

On its website, ECHA justifies that saying that “The use of lead ammunition or fishing tackle containing lead, is known to cause lead poisoning of wildlife, such as birds. People’s health may also be affected by the residual lead present in game killed using lead ammunition, or when making lead ammunition or fishing sinkers or lures at home”. Actually, this thesis about "poisonous lead" has been amply disproved by scientific studies and evidence. Nonetheless,  ECHA has planned a strict timetable and will open a public consultation on the topic in March/April 2021. The scientific (RAC) opinion on the hazard aspects and scope should be adopted in Q4 2021 and a Socio-Economic Analysis report should be issued in parallel, in the last months of the year. A further public consultation on the SEAC opinion will be open in Q1 2022. Their idea is to adopt the restriction already in early 2023.

What they want to achieve with a total ban of lead in ammunition?

What ECHA proposes – and wants to achieve – as future entry in Annex XVII of the REACH Regulation is:

  • Ban on the sale and use of lead gunshot (with a five-year transition period). As current Olympic rules specify the use of lead ammunition for certain disciplines, ECHA also considered an optional derogation for use of lead gunshot for sports shooting only under strict conditions, i.e. when releases to the environment are minimised;
  • Ban on the use of lead in bullets and other projectiles (small caliber: five-year; large caliber: 18-month transition periods). Derogations for continued use if releases to the environment are minimised, i.e. when sports shooting ranges are equipped with bullet traps;
  • Ban on on placing on the market and using lead in fishing sinkers and lures.

Military uses of lead ammunition, along with other non-civilian uses of lead ammunition such as by police, security and customs forces, together with indoor uses of lead ammunition, are outside of the scope of the investigation.

Hunter loading a rifle
The proposed restriction includes a ban on use of lead gunshot, bullets and other projectiles from 2023.

Quite amusingly, ECHA says that “The aim of the proposed restriction is not to ban hunting, sports shooting or fishing”, even if they do not elaborate on this sentence, adding instead that according to their own analysis, “the total costs of the restriction range from EUR 260 million to EUR 10.5 billion over 20 years depending on the sector affected and the type of restriction imposed.”

AFEMS, the Association of European Manufacturers of Sporting Ammunition, announces that with its Force on Lead Metal “will be preparing the Association’s position and responses to the public consultation, with the external support of REACH Law; and will consider further lobby activities in liaison with CEFIC and ILA. The upcoming steps along the process will nevertheless be coordinated with the entire EU network.”

What's next? How can the gun lobby react and protect lead in ammunition?

Let's face it: once again, the interests and rights of European legal gun owners, shooters and hunters are under attack. Clearly, the EU will not be content with the lead ban: basically, their anti-gun agenda will be completed only when all ammo and firearms will be taken away from citizens. One way or another.

We hunters, sport shooters and law-abiding gun owners need to literally “make every shot count” to defend our interests and make our voice heard.

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