In October 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed California Assembly Bill (A.B.) 711, banning lead ammunition for hunting anywhere in the state. The statewide ban is scheduled to take effect in 2019.
Brown stated that hunters are “the original conservationists” and shifting to non-toxic ammunition “will allow them to continue the conservation heritage of California.” Still, will the costs of the bill outweigh the benefits? According to a recent report released by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the answer is a resounding yes.
The report details the economic impact of California’s ban on the use of traditional lead ammunition and finds that the implementation of A.B. 711 will at least triple the price of ammunition, cause more than one-third of the state’s hunters to hunt less or stop hunting completely, cost California’s economy millions of dollars and, ironically enough, lead to a dramatic decline in funding for wildlife conservation.
Here is a closer look at the economic issues associated with requiring California hunters to switch to alternative ammunition composed of metals other than lead:
Major U.S. ammunition manufacturers report that a ban on traditional ammunition with lead components in California for hunting would lead to significantly higher prices: centerfire up 284%, rimfire up 294% and shotshells up 387%.
Based on a survey of California hunters, an increase in ammunition prices would have a significant impact on hunter participation: 13% of California hunters report they would stop hunting as a result of the price change, an additional 10% were unsure if they would continue to hunt, and another 23% said they would likely hunt less than in recent years.
Though alternative ammunition in some calibers is available in the retail market, alternative ammunition only constitutes a small portion of annual ammunition manufacturing. Of all ammunition produced, only 5.3% of centerfire ammunition and 0.5% of rimfire rifle ammunition is produced using alternative metals, and for shotshells it's 24%. On top of this, most of the already small amount of alternative ammunition produced is not intended for hunting purposes, but rather is designated for indoor and specialty uses. The manufacturers are also very small in size and do not have the capacity and resources to meet the levels required of California.
The report indicates that the demand in California for the following calibers would exceed national production or require a large portion of national production of all alternative substitutes, ultimately leading to shortages and canceled hunting trips:
With the loss of more than 50,000 hunters in the state, California’s economy will take a severe hit. Loss will include:
Hunters are the primary source of conservation funding in the state. A dramatic decline in hunters ultimately means fewer dollars for wildlife conservation. The expected reduction in hunter participation and their spending will result in a direct loss of at least $2.7 million in revenue from reduced license sales and a $695,000 reduction in its allocation of excise tax revenues from the federal Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund. These funds serve all wildlife, not just game species.
$68.7 million in salaries and wages
$13.9 million in state and local tax revenue
$5.8 million of federal tax revenues