In search of the truth.

ShutterstockIn search of the truth.

You might think the NRA would be busy enough fighting its current battles, fending off crazy ideas like expanded background checks for gun sales. But no. The group is now picking a whole new fight, this one against activists who want to ban lead bullets.

Studies have shown that as many as 20 million birds, including endangered California condors, die each year from lead poisoning after ingesting bullet fragments. Ammunition is likely the greatest unregulated source of lead released into the environment, according to a statement [PDF] from scientific experts in lead and environmental health. Some states, notably California, are now weighing regulations to outlaw the use of lead in bullets.

The NRA isn’t going to stand by and let that happen. The group has launched a campaign called Hunt for Truth to fight back against “the assault on traditional lead ammunition” by targeting the groups and individuals — mostly scientists, nonprofits, and government agencies — behind this unconscionable attack on American values.

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But the thing is, requiring hunters to use lead-free bullets wouldn’t cause them any great hardship, the Huffington Post reports:

Lead-free bullets are widely available from top manufacturers, and have not been shown to function any differently than bullets containing the highly toxic element.

So this should be a no-brainer — an easy opportunity for the NRA to toss the bird-huggers a bone and get back to its more important mission of keeping guns less regulated than toys. But since when does the NRA cave that easily?

In order to rally its members to oppose the lead regulation, the NRA described a conspiracy theory involving crooked scientists, phony research, and a shadowy network of nonprofits, zoos and government agencies all conspiring to ban hunting.

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According to the NRA, an “activist portion of the scientific community” has formed “a highly organized network of like minded researchers with an agenda to ban lead ammunition.” In order to thwart this looming threat, “Hunt for Truth will expose the researchers associated with ‘faulty science’ critical of lead ammunition,” the gun lobby says.

Scientists aren’t the NRA’s only new targets. Nonprofits like the San Diego Zoo and the California Condor Recovery Team are also on the enemies list. The NRA claims these groups “have considerable influence over many legislators and regulators,” which they use to “capture” the regulatory agencies and bureaucrats responsible for lead ammunition restrictions.

Now that’s rich: the NRA — perhaps the nation’s most powerful lobby, commanding mind-boggling subservience from Congress and other lawmakers — accusing nonprofit environmental groups of controlling the legislative process. The San Diego Zoo and the California Condor Recovery Team can only dream of having even the tiniest fraction of the “considerable influence” the NRA wields. But hey, these are people who think we’d all be safer with more guns, not fewer. I can only imagine the kind of paranoia that must go hand-in-hand with that mentality.

Although I am intrigued by the idea of an underground network of shady zoos; sounds spooky. Someone call M. Night Shyamalan. Or Scooby Doo.

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