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Environmental Group Launches Attack on Newtown-Based Gun-Rights Lobby

An environmental group is singling out a gun-rights group in Newtown, Conn., for opposing repossession of guns from the mentally ill and elimination of lead in bullets.

In a statement yesterday, the Center for Biological Diversity noted that National Shooting Sports Foundation, considered the second-most powerful gun-rights lobby behind the NRA, is located "just three miles" from Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and six adults were killed by a gunman Friday.

The Center said the foundation has "a long history of extremist positions on guns," referring to a California bill last year that didn't just keep the mentally ill from owning guns, but legislated how background check fees can be disbursed.

Opponents included every gun-rights group from the NRA to Safari Club International.

But the environmentalists singled out the Newtown group for pushing legislation, introduced in September by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), to ban the Environmental Protection Agency from eliminating lead in bullets.

"Elimination of lead from bullets would prevent 14,000 tons of this toxic heavy metal from being shot into America’s forests and fields every year, where it poisons some 20 million birds and mammals," the Center said.

“Extremist groups like the National Shooting Sports Foundation have blocked even the most modest, reasonable gun violence and environmental health reforms,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “This insanity has to stop. A gun lobby that supports lead poisoning and opposes funding to confiscate guns from the mentally ill is not just irrational, it’s dangerous. We got lead out of paint, gasoline and children’s toys — now we need to get it out of bullets and get deadly guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.”

The foundation put up a short statement on its website Friday. "Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of this horrible tragedy in our community," it said. "Out of respect for the families, the community and the ongoing police investigation, it would be inappropriate to comment or participate in media requests at this time."