I lead a national nonprofit that raises money for leukemia and lymphoma research through sport-shooting events. I also serve as a trustee with the Central Labor Council of Contra Costa County.
I am a sport shooter, hunter and advocate and have been involved in causes and legislation in support of workers. I am particularly concerned about a bill moving through the California Legislature that will ban traditional lead ammunition.
Recently, the bill, AB711, passed the Legislature with some amendments. However, none of the amendments addressed the concerns expressed by a coalition of Contra Costa County labor leaders, individuals and organizations across the state.
This legislation, which prohibits the use of lead in traditional ammunition, effectively bans hunting in California, and that would cut into significant recreational activity for many union members and their families.
A big problem with this bill is that federal law considers most types of alternative, nonlead ammunition to be "armor piercing" and requires manufacturers to obtain special permits to sell or distribute for hunting purposes. The agency in Washington in charge of granting these permits is not doing so, and there is no indication that this will change anytime soon.
Supporters of this bill include animal rights organizations that oppose hunting and are eager to see it eliminated, beginning with California.
Assembly Bill 711 not only hurts those who hunt, but it also affects thousands of union workers employed by manufacturers that make, distribute, transport and sell traditional lead ammunition.
In fact, the main beneficiary of this bill will be an out-of-state, nonunion company permitted to sell nonlead ammunition.
Hunters, sport shooters and fishers spend millions of dollars in our state every year. They also pay millions in taxes on ammunition and license fees that come right back to California and are spent on wildlife and conservation -- all of which are jeopardized by AB711. Further, the only ammunition that will be available under this law is significantly more expensive, up to 190 percent more than traditional lead ammunition, and that hurts families, including thousands of union households across California that are already spreading their recreation dollars thin.
Instead of working with the hunting community, labor leaders, and other bill opponents, the AB711 author and animal rights organizations made backdoor amendments that do nothing to address our cost and availability concerns.
They are simply ignoring the effect this will have on union jobs, recreational opportunities and cost, and instead are singularly focused on squashing hunting or those in the hunting and sport-shooting industry.
Groups including the Central Labor Council of Contra Costa County, people concerned about California conservation funding and every major hunting and sport shooting organization are joining together in a nonpartisan effort opposing AB711.
Whether you are a union member or family member concerned about these jobs, a hunter wanting to protect their recreational opportunities, or a Californian who wants to keep our outdoors the best in the country, you need to get involved by contacting Gov. Jerry Brown and urging him to veto AB711, the traditional ammunition ban.
Mark Gagliardi is a trustee of the Contra Costa Central Labor Council. He is a resident of Oakley.