The PJ Tatler

California's Sneaky Gun Control Bill May Increase Risk of Forest Fires

California Democrats hate guns. In their creative drive to ban guns without really banning them, because the US Constitution won’t let them, they have come up with several measures. One demands a permit before purchasing ammunition, which makes ammo more expensive. Another is to force a change in the way bullets are made. Michelle Orrock takes a look at the second measure — a mandate to ban lead core ammunition and mandate the use of copper or brass in lead’s place.

The bill I am referring to is Assembly Bill 711 by Assemblymember Anthony Rendon.  If passed, this bill will ban the use of lead ammunition by hunters in California.  My concern is not so much the thrust of the argument by the proponents about lead ammunition, but rather has to do with an August 2013 study by the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service showing the propensity solid-copper bullets have to ignite fires at a much more significant rate than lead core ammunition.  I won’t bore you with getting too deep into the details of the bill or the study (titled “A Study of Ignition by Rifle Bullets), but briefly put, AB 711 will ban lead ammunition.  California shooters will be mandated to substitute lead with copper and bronze bullets.  However, according to the findings of the Forest Service study, copper core bullets had a much higher probability of igniting fires from sparking.

As someone elected to help set policy and manage a budget for a large fire district, I am watchful for any potential public policy that may, albeit inadvertently, increase fire danger – and thereby potential firefighting costs.  My understanding from ammunition manufacturers is that lead ammunition, which shows the lowest propensity for sparking and igniting fire according to the study, occupies about 95% of ammunition market share.

Setting the arguments for and against banning of lead ammunition aside, AB 711, like many other bills that move quickly through the California Legislature, has unintended consequences – some of which are particularly timely given the intensity of this fire season.  With California’s high fire risk and growing costs to fight fires, AB 711 impacts deserve more scrutiny than the annual legislative process affords.

What California’s Democrats are really trying to do is warp the ammunition market and drive up prices and scarcity not just in their state, but nationwide, as anything that happens in the nation’s most populous state tends to impact every other state. Undoubtedly the gun control crowd will welcome this devious move against market forces. Anything in the service of disarming law-abiding citizens is fine with the gun grabbers.

I supposed we should consider California’s forests and homes mere collateral damage.