WASHINGTON – At the same time federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security are buying up ammunition stockpiles around the country and shipping large quantities overseas for use by the military, the Obama administration is now pushing states to mandate “green ammunition” that is free of lead.
The result? Ammo supplies for law-abiding citizens have dried up in recent months, and experts expect it to get worse.
“The potential exists for a de facto ammunition ban,” says Ryan Bronson of the Minnesota-based National Shooting Sports Foundation.
Some sources even describe the developments as a conspiracy to limit Americans’ Second Amendment right.
Unprecedented ammunition shortages have been in headlines for months, with stores often limiting purchases to one or two boxes, if they have the desired caliber at all. Often retail shelves that used to hold abundant ammunition supplies display nothing but dust.
Now it appears the developments creating that unwelcome convergence include a campaign to move toward non-toxic, non-lead bullets because of the health concerns associated with lead, the mass purchases government is known to make, and even the shipments of supplies overseas.
Sources say health-care advocates are arguing that lead bullet fragments, especially in game such as venison, are neurotoxins that can harm children and developing fetuses.
Even the U.S. Geological Survey has had something to say about lead-based ammunition. It estimates that nationwide there are 400,000 pieces of lead shot per acre in areas where game is hunted, which can potentially be eaten or washed into waterways.
The USGS further claims 650,000 metric tons of lead were fired off in 2012, the second largest use of lead besides storage batteries.
Supporters of traditional lead ammunition, however, say that there is no study to show any significant reduction in wildlife populations from lead poisoning nor danger to people who eat game that has been killed either from birdshot or more powerful rounds.
Developing “green ammunition” has proven to be slow going, as the federal government and some states are looking at alternative metals that can provide the same weight as a lead bullet.
Those options include copper and tungsten materials, but they are so hard that technically they could violate federal regulations barring armor-piercing ammunition.
Meanwhile, the Department of Defense purchasing program outlines regulatory guidance such as Executive Order 13423 in “Green Purchasing” on a variety of products.
“DOD is committed to being a good steward of the environment,” a DOD brochure said. “Always think green at the start of the acquisition process!”
While environmental organizations have periodically expressed concern about lead in ammunition, it has not garnered widespread attention until recently.
But sources say they believe those pursuing the Obama administration’s known agenda for restricting access to weaponry and ammunition, which saw daylight after the Sandy Hook and Aurora, Colo., mass shootings, are now adding environmentalism to their anti-gun arsenal of tactics.
Generating an ammunition shortage by pushing for still unavailable “green” ammo, while buying up existing lead-based supplies, would contribute to that, they say.
The government’s Green Procurement Program previously addressed:
- Recycled content products
- Energy Star and energy-efficient products
- Alternative fuel vehicles and alternative fuels
- Bio based products
- Non-ozone depleting substances
- Environmentally preferable products and services
- Priority chemicals.
But now ammunition has been added, with the apparent aim of using the federal agency green purchasing program to force ammunition manufacturers to switch from lead to non-lead bullets.
Until that’s available, sources say, the federal government continues to reach agreements to buy “all” lead-based ammunition in pre-production from major manufacturers.
“This could explain the huge FEMA purchase run-up over the last couple years,” one weapons industry source said, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency within the DHS.
Even the U.S. military is supposed to shift to “green,” non-toxic or lead-free composite projectiles, said to be more “earth friendly” and better for the environment. Sources say it will cost four times as much to make “green” ammunition.
And, sources add, a complication means that lead bullets sent overseas to Iraq and then to Afghanistan to combat the war on terror cannot be returned to the U.S. because the ammunition was originally transported without proper export licenses.
Moreover, large quantities of the lead-based ammunition stockpiles in the U.S. are being directed to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center under DHS, sources say.
At the same time, the FLETC is purchasing lead-free ammunition as it becomes available for training, referring to as “reduced hazard ammunition,” or RHA.
Because the FLETC in Georgia is a major federal law enforcement center, sources say some 30 agencies use the facility’s contracts to purchase more than three billion rounds of RHA.
Some lead-based ammunition is being imported from South Korea, Turkey, Brazil, Bulgaria and other countries to make up for existing shortfalls.
These imports will help meet demand until domestic production can once again make up for the DHS purchase of more than 1.6 billion rounds, which has effectively diminished supply and the ability for the average U.S. citizen to purchase it for legal purposes.
The Green Procurement Program has transpired over the course of three administrations. It was begun under President Bill Clinton, pushed aside by President George W. Bush and then revived by President Obama.
FBI sources tell WND that the “green” ammunition will never be acceptable to everyday shooters, or to law enforcement, since firearms would need to be adjusted at great individual expense to handle this new ammunition, leading to possible jamming and potential damage to firearms.
The FBI source added that “green” ammunition is used during training, but lead-based ammunition will continue to be used operationally.
The ammunition issue became so volatile only a week ago that the House of Representatives voted to stop the DHS from entering into new contracts to buy millions of rounds until a report on the government’s need is assembled.
If approved by the Senate and signed by Obama, the bill from Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., would mean a delay in DHS plans to buy another 1.1 billion rounds until the report is completed.
Only two months ago, Fox News reported that schools training individuals to handle guns were allocating staff time to hunt the Web for ammunition supplies and customers were being told to bring their own ammo.
While there has been a massive jump in purchases of weapons and ammunition since Obama took office, the last few months have seen shortages reach a critical point. Some police departments have asked their town’s citizens for help in maintaining a supply adequate for their work.
WND reported in April that the federal government admitted it was running the stock of ammunition dry.
Word came when then-Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was talking to members of Congress and was asked about the ammunition issue.
Questioned by Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., about reports of the massive purchases, Napolitano explained that her department dismissed the concerns when they arose, not feeling them worth a response.
Huge purchases confirmed
Napolitano said she thought reports of DHS’s purchase of 1.6 billion rounds – enough for many years of war at the rate ammunition is used by the U.S. military these days – were accurate.
“This was a five-year strategic sourcing contract for up to one-point-whatever billion rounds,” she confirmed.
The actual reports have contained the figure 1.6 billion rounds. And calculations done by the Washington Examiner suggest that would be enough for “something like a 24-year supply of ammunition on hand.’
What it is accomplishing is that other consumers of ammunition, from the weekend hunter to police departments, are finding the shelves bare.
For example, Utica, N.Y., police have been told it could take up to 10 months now to get the ammunition they order.
In Mobile, Ala., Nick Sagler said, "You can't find what you need."
And Jeremy Windle called it an "extreme shortage."
Ronica Williams, at the Greater Gulf State Fairgrounds gun show, said all of the ordinary supplies are backordered "six months or better."
In Boca Raton, Fla., the problem is just as bad.
"Right now ammo's pretty hard to get. People bought everything that was to be bought, They've completely cleaned out the supply chain," said a gunsmith.
In Caldwell, W.Va., retailers said the expense is going up for gun owners, because of the shortage of ammunition. The reporter there suggested it was "ammunition hoarding," because of talk in Washington about gun regulations, rules, restrictions and requirements.
A range operator said, "I think it's made more people panic and made more people purchase whatever they can."
Other locales that have reported problems:
- In West Texas, consumers and police alike reported problems.
- South Carolina's ammo supply for police departments is short.
- In Waco, police have noticed a ammo shortage.
- In Illinois, handgun training is being hindered because of the shortage.
- New York gun owners are getting frustrated by the ammo shortage.
- In Vermont, local shops can't keep their customers satisfied, because they can't get the supplies.
- In Alaska, gun owners are left searching for ammunition.
- Lodi, Calif., police also are walking a thin line of keeping their weapons loaded.
- In Fort Wayne, Ind., store operators complain they are being hurt because they cannot obtain the supplies.
- The U.S. government ammo grab is hurting stores in Hastings, Neb., owners say.