New legislation has been passed in Europe which effectively ends the use of lead shot for any purpose in two years. As FACE's Secretary General, Dr. David Scallan, explained there are many serious problems in the EU lead ban. Analysis from all4shooters.com outlined the issues thus:
Problem 1, the definition of a wetland: the Commission proposed in fact to use the full Ramsar definition of “wetlands”, “which includes expansive areas of land without visible water, such as peatlands. This definition will be highly ambiguous for hunters and enforcement officers in deciding what areas are peatlands (including many dry forest areas) and where such peatlands occur at the field level. The definition even includes temporary puddles after rainfall, which will make it impossible for hunters to know whether they are in breach of the regulation or not – especially as the definition changes with weather conditions.”
Problem 2, banning possession: “Buffer zones are included in the proposal, which prohibit the use and carrying of lead shot in or within 100 metres of wetlands. Hence, anyone in possession of lead shot within 100 metres of water will be presumed to be guilty of wetland shooting. Considering that the definition of wetlands depends upon unpredictable weather conditions, it implies that hunters could be considered guilty without realising that they are crossing a wetland while carrying lead shot. This is clearly a breach of international and European human rights law, including the Convention on Human Rights and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.”
Problem 3, impacts on international competitive clay shooting: it will be “practically impossible for Olympic and non-Olympic international clay shooting competitions to be held in any EEA country. Already one rain shower would mean that using lead shot is not allowed, and these are lead shot-only events. Further, it is estimated that over 600 shooting ranges have permanent water features present. No assessment of the impacts of this law on clay shooting was conducted.”
Problem 4, the transition period: “Without any socio-economic rationale, the Commission proposed a much shorter transition period (24 months) than the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) did in its opinion, which was 36 months.” A proper transition period was needed, which should be at least 36 months following ECHA’s opinion and 60 months for countries that have no restriction in place.
Once again – as it always happens when they are talking about hunting and firearms in general – an ideological stance prevailed in the EU, against all logic and against the interests of the European citizens themselves. Hunters and sports shooters will pay the price now, together the whole industry, with all the foreseeable economic impact in a time when, due to the Coronavirus emergency, the situation was already dramatic.
This week legislation to speed up the phase-out of lead shot was rejected by the UK Parliament, in view of the five-year voluntary phase-out already under-way with the backing of all major UK shooting organisations. however, as we are still in the EU, the European legislation will, in all probability, take precedence.
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