California, on what may be one of the most misguided or misleading standards of reasoning, has led the nation with its ban on traditional lead ammunition. While feel-good politics may soothe the conscience of many, Southwick Associates undertook a study for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) to determine the economic impact on the California economy and wildlife conservation efforts in the state attributed to the lead ammunition ban and the potential effects it could have on the rest of the nation.
Surprising to many, California is actually game rich and one of the top states for hunting. Although California is one of the few states in the U.S. without whitetails, California still ranks 8th nationally in terms of total spending by hunters. This is important when you consider the following; if all hunters were to adopt alternative hunting ammunition (without any drop in participation) demand in California alone for the following calibers would exceed national production or require a large portion of national production for alternative substitutes. This increase in demand would cause shortages and cancelled hunting excursions. According to Southwick Associates in a report compiled for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), this is how the numbers would play out.
- .22 rimfire demand in California would exceed the entire U.S. production of alternative .22 rounds by 472%
- .17 rimfire demand in California would exceed the entire U.S. production of alternative .17 rounds by 263%
- 8mm demand in California would exceed the entire U.S. production of alternative 8mm rounds by 1,094%
- .204 demand in California would exceed the entire U.S. production of alternative .204 rounds by 563%
- .270 demand in California currently comprises 40% of the entire U.S. production of alternative .270 rounds
- .30-30 demand in California would exceed the entire U.S. production of alternative .30-30 rounds by 108%
- .308 demand in California currently comprises 14% of the entire U.S. production of alternative .308 rounds
- .35 demand in California would exceed the entire U.S. production of alternative .35 rounds by 155%
- .30-06 demand in California currently comprises 24% of the entire U.S. production of alternative .30-06 rounds
More generally, a survey of ammunition manufacturers reported that a ban on traditional ammunition using lead components for hunting would translate to substantially higher prices to the tune of 284% for centerfire, 294% for rimfire and shotshells would rise by an estimated 387%. The trickle effect of the higher prices would cause 36% of hunters to stop hunting or reduce participation within the state. Of that, 13% (over 50,000) would stop hunting altogether. Currently, rimfire production using non-lead components makes up a mere 0.5% of all production and could all but completely eliminate the .22LR caliber as an introduction to hunters entering the sport, which would lead to both short- and long-term impacts to participation.
Cost of Losing Hunting Dollars
Of concern, even to nonhunters, would be the projected loss of almost 2,000 jobs, $68.7 million in wages and salaries, $13.9 million in state and local tax revenue and $5.8 million less to the federal tax coffers. Even if the economy were not in its current anemic state, these losses would cause a significant impact. Of course, this does not even take into account the portion of license and ammunition sales that go to conservation efforts within the state. Losing hunting dollars directly creates a significant shortfall to conservation efforts that propel the protection and management of game animals as well as the land.
The numbers are easy to calculate. Getting lawmakers to understand the impact is quite another matter. What are you or your state doing to combat anti-hunting efforts and protect conservation dollars? Share it with us in the comment section.