Former Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) accused President Barack Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency of advancing “back door gun control … while we are all distracted with Obamacare and Iran nuclear negotiations” in an editorial on his website Sunday.
Citing this month's closure of the nation's last primary lead smelter in Herculaneum, Mo., West argues that in an effort to advance gun control, 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.
“Thanks to Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), we can no longer smelt lead from ore in the United States,” West writes. “What this all means is that after December 2013, any ammunition that will be available to U.S. citizens will have to be imported, which will surely increase the price and possibly come under government control.”
The lead smelter in Herculaneum was the cause of high levels of lead in the blood of children in the area, a situation that Denise Jordan-Izaguirre of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry called "tragic" in an August story on Mid-Missouri Public Radio. Lead bullets have also been the source of contamination at firing ranges.
While the lead smelter that's closing makes lead directly from primary lead or iron ore, there still remain secondary lead smelters nationwide that recycle lead from existing items, including lead acid batteries or spent ammunition components. Bullet producer Sierra noted in a blog post that the company makes bullets out of recycled lead -- in fact, "Sierra uses no primary lead at all and never has," the company wrote.
"Our supply should not be in jeopardy and we do not anticipate any changes in our supply chain at this time," Sierra, which makes its bullets in the U.S., wrote.
Ammunition manufacturer Federal Premium Ammunition, which also produces bullets in the U.S., expressed little concern as well over the closure of the last U.S. lead smelter.
“At this time we do not anticipate any additional strain on our ability to obtain lead” as a result of the upcoming closure, the company wrote on its Frequently Asked Questions page.
In January, West painted gun control as nothing more than a political agenda that could be resolved by simply not pulling the trigger.
"This is your gun control, this finger right here -- your index finger," West said in an interview with Newsmax TV. "Nothing happens with that gun until you put that finger into the trigger well and you pull it."
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.”