Former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., is joining the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups to warn about a back-door attack on the Second Amendment by the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency.
In a column posted on his website Sunday, West wrote about the Doe Run company’s lead-producing plant in Herculaneum, Mo., which is being forced to close after the EPA required it to spend up to $100 million on upgrades.
Doe Run, the last primary lead smelter in the United States, has been around since 1892 but is closing on Dec. 31.
West accused Obama of using the EPA to advance “backdoor gun control … while we are all distracted with Obamacare and Iran nuclear negotiations.”
West argued the Obama administration’s “new extremely tight air-quality restrictions” have led to the end of lead as the primary metal in bullets — making ammunition much more expensive and less accessible and leaving America no choice but to turn to overseas operations to produce lead bullets, a situation West says is akin to a federal power grab on guns.
“Come 2014, all ammunition sold to civilian gun owners in America will have to be imported, a result of President Obama’s crackdown on sulfur dioxide and lead emissions and accompanying harsh Environmental Protection Agency regulations,” wrote West.
“[This] will surely increase the price and possibly come under government control,” Mr. West warned, according to a Breitbart.com report. “It seems this is fully in concert with the U.S. military and Homeland Defense recent purchase of large quantities of ammunition.”
He said the “chilling effect” is that while the closure of the smelt plant doesn’t take guns out of the hands of Americans, it does put in jeopardy ammunition supplies.
As the largest lead producer in North America, Doe Run was embroiled in a decade-long battle between angry parents, government regulators and environmentalists, who argued the plant was responsible for high levels of lead in the blood of children in the area, according to an August story on Mid-Missouri Public Radio.
The battles over contamination in the town pitted neighbor against neighbor and culminated in a flurry of lawsuits. One of them singled out the EPA and forced the federal government to revise the national air pollution standard for lead, tightening it by a factor of ten.
Doe Run made significant efforts to reduce lead emissions from the smelter, but in 2008 the federal Environmental Protection Agency issued new National Ambient Air Quality Standards for lead that were 10 times tighter than the previous standard. Given the new lead air quality standard, Doe Run made the decision to close the Herculaneum smelter.
Whatever the EPA’s motivation when creating the new lead air quality standard, increasingly restrictive regulation of lead is likely to affect the production and cost of traditional ammunition. Just this month, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that will ban lead ammunition for all hunting in California. The Center for Biological Diversity has tried multiple times to get similar regulations at the federal level by trying, and repeatedly failing, to get the EPA to regulate conventional ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
“You can own all the guns you want, but if you can’t get ammo, you are out of luck,” West wrote, on his blog. “Remember when President Obama promised his minions that he was working on gun control behind the scenes? Welcome to it. The result is that all domestically mined ore will have to be shipped overseas, refined and then shipped back to the U.S.”
West warned: “Not only will ammo be even harder to come by, the demand and the process of supply will cause the price to skyrocket even more. And ponder this: There is an excellent chance that Obama will rig the market to where all ammo has to be purchased from the government, instituting an ammo registration. … So America, backdoor gun control is moving forward … [and] our Second Amendment rights are undergoing an assault by clandestine infiltration.”
West concluded his editorial by bashing the president’s “progressive socialist acolytes” for destroying the Second Amendment before telling fellow GOP politicians, “Now it’s our move in 2014.”