California’s AB 711, part 205-23-2013 | Matthew Podolsky
This is the second blog post in a three part series about the California bill AB 711, which is designed to regulate the use of lead-based ammunition for hunting statewide. Stay tuned for part three, which will be posted one week from today.
In this post we will be hearing the arguments in opposition of AB 711. Although there are a number of organizations that oppose this bill, the representative from the National Shooting Sports Foundation is the only one who is given a significant amount of time to make his case.
Most of the arguments that are made here we’ve heard a thousand times, but there are a few interesting points. It is stressed that this should not be a legislative decision, but a decision made by the California state fish and game commission. This is a point that we have heard over and over again, going back to the 2008 debate over the regional lead ammo ban, but it is an argument that at its face seems reasonable. The biologists and game managers at the state fish and game commission are the experts, so shouldn’t they be the ones to make this decision? We’ll get a good response to this point later from one of the assembly members. The only new argument that we hear from the NSSF is based off of the the Gun Control Act of 1968. In this act the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is granted the right to regulate ammunition that is defined as “armor-piercing.” The definition of “armor-piercing” that is used in this act is somewhat vague, and could potentially be inclusive of non-lead ammunition. So the NSSF and others are claiming that this bill has the potential to ban ALL ammunition, effectively ending the use of firearms in the state.
Now we get into the comments from the members of the assembly. First we hear from CA State Assembly member Mike Gatto, who directly responds to the opposition’s claim that this issue should be handled by the state fish and game commission, not the legislature. Gatto explains that the legislature created the state fish and game commission, and has retained its right to step in when it wishes. “We are not doctors, but we legislate on the practice of medicine, we are not criminologists, but we set the punishments for crimes. We are the legislature, we respond to the people… this is conclusively the proper venue.” Although it does initially seem to makes sense that the responsibility for this issue would fall into the hands of the state game and fish commission, I find it difficult to argue with Mike Gatto on this; as he said, they created the state game and fish commission.
In next week’s post we will hear more questions and concerns from the California state assembly members and address some of the issues central to this bill.