February 04, 2020

Florida’s Shooting Ranges: A Lapse in Regulation Raises Environmental Concerns

Kimberli Quintero

The consequences of an unregulated shooting range industry stretch well beyond the current apprehensions relating to gun safety. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that much of the 80,000 tons of lead made into bullets each year “finds its way into the environment at [shooting] ranges.” While lead is the primary contaminant, shooting ranges also produce high levels of copper, zinc, and antimony. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention determined that shooting firearms is the most common nonoccupational exposure to lead. The accumulation of lead in the human body can have detrimental effects—in adults, it can lead to high blood pressure, memory loss, birth defects, and decline in mental abilities. For children, it can halt development, cause damage to the brain and nervous system, induce behavioral problems, contribute to headaches and blood disorders, and impair vision and motor skills. Even the main advocates of an unregulated firearm industry, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), agree that the lead exposure from shooting ranges poses a substantial health threat.

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