Exclusive: What the Media is Not Telling You About Future Lead Ammo Shortages

By: Joshua Cook
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Both the left and the right have disputed Col. Allen West’s claim that President Obama is engaging in backdoor gun control by using the EPA to close down America’s primary lead smelter.

Col. West argued that without lead, gun manufacturers cannot make conventional ammunition, and accuses Obama of using backdoor gun control tactics to weaken the 2nd Amendment. Lawrence Keane, the senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), which represents the ammunitions and firearms industry, told the Washington Times, “Manufacturers use recycled lead to make ammunition. They don’t buy from smelters.”

“The EPA closing, which has been in the works for a while, will have no impact on production, supply or cost to the consumers,” said Keane. Benswann.com’s Joshua Cook called the NSSF, but they could not be reached for comment.

What is unclear is how gun manufacturers will get their additional lead supply? Secondary smelters have only recycled lead from manufacturers. Secondary smelters only provide the service of processing the lead, which is then returned to the manufacturers.

Benswann.com’s Joshua Cook contacted the smelter set to close, which is owned by Doe Run and located in Missouri. Cook asked Doe Run’s spokeswoman Tammy Stankey to clarify if lead ammunition will be affected by the closure of America’s last primary smelter.

Stankey told Cook:

“Primary lead is produced from ore. We have the largest mining district in the world here in Missouri. We extract the minerals to produce a pure lead concentrate, which goes to our smelter at the Herculaneum facility in Missouri.”

“That smelter produces the primary lead that battery manufacturers prefer. We also have a secondary smelter in Missouri. It recycles 13 million batteries a year used in automobiles all over the world.”

“The secondary smelter recovers lead by recycling it from batteries, spent lead ammunition and other lead materials. The predominant customers are battery companies. The battery companies send batteries in, and we recover the lead and send it back to them. These companies in America rely on us to provide them with secondary lead and primary lead.”

“We also sell lead to ammo manufacturers who are using primarily secondary lead.”

“Some of them may not be concerned; however, 130,000 tons of lead, which is primary lead, but still lead, will be removed from the North American market.”

“So we are in the supply-and-demand market, if you remove 130,000 tons of lead from the market, there will be greater competition for the remaining lead. So it’s really a matter of supply and demand.”

“There will be a smaller supply of lead in the U.S. market in the future.”

“Having said that, between 96% to 98% of all lead acid batteries are recycled annually. So that tells you that on an annual basis, we are losing 2% to 4% of the lead. It’s not being returned in to the recycled lead production in the U.S. The primary lead historically helped to make up the gap.”


“So are the ammo manufacturers are correct when they say they get their lead from secondary smelters, that’s an accurate statement.”

“Is it also accurate to say that we are looking at lead shortages all over? That is an accurate statement too, because 130,000 tons of lead will be removed from the U.S. market.”

“So the next question is where to get additional lead? The only primary smelters left in North America are two in Canada and one in Mexico. There are also some smelters in Asia.”

“China will likely ship us batteries but not the raw material the battery manufactures wants to use to make their own batteries. It’s simple economics. Would you rather sell corn or loaves of bread? There is a profit motivation for China to sell batteries, not the raw material of lead.”

“That’s the part that people who aren’t concerned are missing. We are taking  130,000 tons off the market. So the question is: where will that lead come from? What additional costs will come to supply the market with that demand? How much will shipping lead, which is a heavy material, cost?  What about the political and environmental pressure to regulate lead smelters all over the world? How much competition will be there for lead imported to the U.S.?”

“The battery companies require the largest percent of lead, 80%. So if you are someone that is not a high-demand customer, you will have less leverage with the supplier for lead. The battery companies will have an easier time with suppliers, because suppliers do not want to jeopardize a large contract. Battery manufacturers own the lead. It’s not our lead. We simply provide a service to recover the lead and return it to the battery manufactures,” said Stankey.

If ammunition manufacturers are like battery manufactures, only with less leverage, then where will they get new lead supplies? It must be imported.

As stated in a previous article, U.S. Congressman Jeff Duncan’s communications director told Cook, “We’re very concerned and extensively looking into the lead issue.”

The concern for gun owners is that if President Obama bans lead imports for gun manufacturers by executive order, he can limit ammo supply.

Cook asked Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, if he was concerned that Obama may ban lead imports for ammunition manufactures by executive order?

 ”That’s why we need to impeach him,” said Pratt. The sheriff of the county where that smelter is located should have already communicated with the chief attorney of the EPA and said, ‘Not in my county. If you come into my county, I am arresting you.’”

Cook asked Michele Hickford, communications director for Col. Allen West, about the recent criticisms regarding his article and the reality of the lead issue. “It’s fair to say the EPA is slowly tightening the noose on the lead industry in this country. It doesn’t take much to connect the dots and see where it’s headed. Any reduction in production, as you point out, is bound to impact supply at some point,” said Hickford.

“You know, last fall before the election, Col. West was vilified for questioning the sudden drop in unemployment figures. Turns out they were fake after all,” said Hickford.

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Joshua Cook

Joshua Cook is the acting Chairman for the Republican Liberty Caucus of South Carolina. Joshua Cook's articles have also been cited on sites such as InfoWars, Reason.com, WND.com, Breitbart.com, DailyCaller and FreedomOutPost.com. If you have any tips please email me at [email protected] Like me on FB and follow me on Twitter.

  • 1Conservative1

    No matter how you look at it, the closing of the Doe

    • Brian Robinson

      Here we go just when ammo was starting to trickle in to stores we have another mad dash to buy ammo!

  • Keyser Soze

    This article is kinda weak Ben. Non-lead based bullets are out there. It took me less than 5 minutes to find over 40 companies. With comparable prices. Live free my friends.

    • http://infotainmentempire.blogspot.com Rob

      Ben Swann did not write this article, it was Joshua Cook.

    • W. Ragas

      There are not that many non-lead based bullets. Only few manufacturers have perfected the ability to get non-lead stable in projectile form. Sure anyone can melt down a metal and form to call it something else, but if it doesn’t work correctly then you are stuck with one melted object formed into another melted object, a.k.a. paperweight. This will make manufacturers resort to getting on the wagon with these companies that are already doing it, but then the government will come after that ore, as they are doing with lead.

    • CloudNine

      There is no compelling reason to shutter a primary lead smelter. Unless, the agenda to decrease the traditional material to manufacture ammo is considered.

      Think long term – why handicap ourselves?

      Time to SHUTTER the EPA – EcoSocialist A-Holes

  • Grinningbear

    we are being played at every level. Closing a lead smelter, backdoor gun control? Some shout a warning. Many others shout “there is nothing to see here…” How is this accomplished? Executive fiat, or EPA regulation? Nothing to see here, move along, move along…

  • James Barnes

    The whole last of the lead smelters closing is a lie. Well partially a lie. It is the last lead only smelter. Most smelters work in gold, silver, cooper , lead and a few other minerals. There are at least 5 primary smelters and 23 secondary smelters in the US I was able to find who deal with refining and smelting of lead. Now comes the big shock. There are 3 of the largest mining, refining and smelting operations in America on the Arizona border in Mexico. As a guy who shoots a lot of ammo I don’t think were going to run out of lead. I am upset that folks would spread lies when we need the truth if we want to keep our guns.

  • CommonSense101

    EPA; a government/corporate entity that closes down American industry under the guise of “protecting the environment” only to transfer jobs overseas to nations with the highest pollution rates and cheapest labor. Thus, consolidating the production and increasing control of natural resources and goods while inflating the wealth of a few.

    • 1Conservative1

      De-industrialize the nation, destroy the economy, make the majority of the populace dependent and the global elite have total control.

      • CommonSense101

        Agenda 21

  • casterofpeals

    send ammo and weapons to syrian forces to fight their tyrannical gov’t, ban ammo and weapons from own people who don’t like tyranny.

    lol

  • http://convictionsoffaith.com/ Alyssa Krumm

    scary stuff

  • Steve Randolph

    With Obama is more of the same. He has done nothing to support the American people. Everything from his administration and direction of the govt is to the detriment of the people. Support for his terrorist foreign friends, yes. Support for his socialistic donors, yes. Support for his political cronies, yes. Support for the average American citizen, NO.

  • https://www.facebook.com/LegitamateSportsmen LegitimateSportsmen

    If it makes economic sense to make an EPA-compliant lead smelting plant in the U.S. somebody will do it. If it makes more economic sense to import the needed primary lead, that is what will happen.

    • Pipps

      it doesn’t change the fact the the prices of products with lead in them will go up due to the EPA’s arbitrary regulations.

      • https://www.facebook.com/LegitamateSportsmen LegitimateSportsmen

        Possibly, with such a small percent of the market involved it would be impossible to say either way.

        Pretty much all electronic production pretty much moved out of the U.S. years (if not decades) ago, but prices have certainly not gone up.

        Don’t get me wrong, I am not in favor of the EPA’s arbitrary regulations. Quite the contrary. But I think the ‘panic’ over ammunition costs that some are currently engaged in is a bit overblown.

        • bhpmmt

          prices have not gone up? you deny inflation? wow have we something to learn.

          • https://www.facebook.com/LegitamateSportsmen LegitimateSportsmen

            On electronics? You look at buying a computer or a TV lately? Wow, have we something to learn.

    • barneipic

      the first possibility will not be borne but the second will. The Jewlluminate’s international trade was not for the second amendment.

  • Zionistout

    I owned a .22 pellet rifle I used to use as cheap target shooting gun. They make pellets out of lead normally. But because of the health concerns surrounding lead many manufactures started making pellets out of other metals besides lead. They cost a bit more but work the same. The cost increase isn’t that high. I think the ammunition manufactures should look into this. They can’t stop them from going after lead. This could be a good idea to keep ammo in production.

    • Brian Robinson

      They already make lead free ammo but it’s expensive!

  • libertyczar

    Well, I must say, I am a bit surprised by some of the reactions to this story. I don’t believe the article is fear mongering about ammo shortages, but is fair in saying that it WILL affect the market, as well as imply that we don’t really know or can predict exactly what fallout will come from it. In its simplest terms, the EPA is forcing us to import something we are more than capable of production ourselves. And, how bout them jobs? One thing is certain, is that the EPA used extortion to closed a manufacturing operation in the US, arguably “last one”, strong arming under the false premise of the global warming fraud or more insidiously, ammo control.

    I agree with Larry Pratt of GOA, that sheriff should get a phone call, or many phone calls, SHAMING him for not standing up. Sheriff Mack should get involved and assist, and remind him what his job is.

    Speaking of shame, why people are defending the actions of the EPA, even partially or indirectly, in the comments here, claiming to be defenders of the Second Amendment, is beyond me. For anyone who claims to be a Constitutionalist, the “nothing to see here”, “no big deal” here, does not fly. We stand together and fight every inch of this type of behavior from the federal government. Remember who the real enemy is.

    • bhairy

      epa was direly concerned about manhattaners dying from the asbestos from Larry Silversteins demolitions. why wouldnt they be the same about ammu.

  • leslie green

    We will push back!

  • Anisha Dunne

    If the people actually were the ones who ‘controlled’ the currency, the means of exchange through their congress/treasury, that would be one thing. But they don’t. THAT fact is the very lynch pin to all the woes and mess here and abroad. We, the ‘living’ people, house a spark of the Prime Creator within our very beings. We are flesh and blood. THEY operate in a fictional vehicle called ‘corporation’ even as govt Offices. THEY are fiction. THEY require our consent to exist. We simply withhold our consent. We undo our creations (their Office). ” I hereby banish your Office from my reality!” Boom. Gone!

    • bhhppph

      and yet another black friday

  • Ricky Ross

    It’s laughable that Allen West is speaking as if cares about this country or our rights…

    - Voted YES on extending the PATRIOT Act’s roving wiretaps (Feb 2011)

    - Voted YES for the NDAA (Dec 2011)

    https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/112-2011/h26

    http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll932.xml

    • barrney

      he needs “goosed in a palatial way”

  • Andrew Stanford

    annnnnnnnd now you know why Homeland Security and the IRS and everyone else stockpile ammo recently… the plan is coming together… ugh.

  • pantser

    great article. stanky is definitely not. and no one has been impeached or arrested. square one. one step onward for the jewlluminate.

  • Darg

    Will they come for our swords next?

  • Andy Wolf

    Quit thinking with emotion and dig a little deeper. This is hardly an issue.
    http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2013/12/chris-dumm/nssf-sierra-atk-worried-lead-smelter-closure/

    • jwclark

      Andy: This is not really helpful. I have not once seen one person buying up all the ammo in any of the stores i frequent. What I see is, basically, no ammo or reloading supplies every time I go to the outlets. There is some ammo that is not popular and there is a bit it seems of .223, but otherwise, even though there are guns to buy, the shelves are empty of most stuff.
      In other words, I don’t believe it is my neighbor who is the problem. So, I think you need to “dig a little deeper.” Hoarding is not causing the supply to run out. But what the government is doing systematically is causing the hoarding. So, two questions: One, where is your store? And two, how much ammo do you have?

  • Andy Wolf

    The ammo shortage is caused by selfish idiots who hoard ammo. I see them at my work whenever we get shipments, hovering like vultures to fill their 3-14k round stockpiles while families just now buying guns cant get a single round to practice with. These same people sell the ammo online for more than what they paid.

    The ammunition industry uses secondary lead, recycled from things like batteries.

    The particular regulation responsible for the closure was published in
    2008. The Herculaneum closure appears to be the end-game of a legal and
    administrative battle that started in 2003 under the administration of
    president George W. Bush.

    According to industry sources, the main reason for continued
    ammunition scarcity and high prices is extremely high commercial demand.

    • anarchobuddy

      Why is it the case that ammo manufacturers haven’t increased output to such an extent to make sure shelves aren’t bare? Are their supply curves extremely steep?

  • Seeking_Truth

    Here is a report from the Federal government that explains Federal Jurisdiction within the bounds of any state. The tenth amendment advocates have that part right. This report is long. Read it if you like, or just suffice it to say that the Federal government has no jurisdiction within the bounds of any state except on Federal enclaves (like forts, and arsenals, etc.)

    http://www.constitution.org/juris/fjur/fed_jur.htm

    The Federal Government should have no authority to shut down a privately owned factory. How are they getting away with it?

    The Federal government has unlimited jurisdiction over US citizens no matter where in the world they are. The Federal governments authority is limited over people who are not US citizens, but are state citizens only. The owners, and workers, and even the corporation itself are US citizens. The 14th amendment opened the door that we have all walked through to become US citizens. We blindly signed away our freedom, as explained here:

    http://noconstitutionforyou.blogspot.com

    • Fed up with the FED !

      I write this reply to commend you on posting something that is informative and perhaps helpful ? I personally didn’t know of this, and being someone who follows how my states representatives vote on issues… is something we should all send along to them.
      Recently regarding the vote concerning attacking Syria, I learned that mine were clueless as to who the players where, who’s fighting and why ?
      Most of what they were developing their opinions on were that coming from the Israeli Zionist, and Wahhabi Saudi lobbyist … as is Always the case, regarding this part of the world.
      Of which it is so Very Important we the people do our best to educate these fools there in Washington DC. so… as to at least not to have heard them saying later… How they didn’t really know the facts of the matter.
      You’d think these politicians would have learned something from being lied to, about… Iraq ?

      • g.johnon

        maybe a better way to go would be to elect people who were paying attention in the first place.

        • Fed up with the FED !

          That sounds all fine and dandy, but I’ve noticed a politician will say one thing on the campaign trail, then do the complete opposite when elected to office !

  • Sally Hemings

    This is also part of the New World Order.

  • Fed up with the FED !

    Being that I sell PV solar systems here in Hawaii, that in some cases uses these batteries, It looks like I’m going to have to deal with China.
    This government of ours is, and has been doing the bidding of those interest that aren’t that of it’s citizens for sometime now, and I for one am doing here on a grass-root level what ever I can to make a difference. Like getting involved in state politics. Where we in this nation still have a chance to change things on a Federal level. Gun rights don’t mean much to those here in this state, being that most don’t own one. However there are other things that do… Like liberties, and personal rights that deal with property ownership, taxes, and various other issues that make for what it is to live as an American citizen.
    All it will take is something to happen here that will prevent the life-style we have had, and are a custom to. It will be then we will see the people demanding change in our government. Of which knows all to well… with all the citizens that do own guns presently, that’s going to be a bitch to deal with !
    Personally I hope it doesn’t come to that, but we all need to start getting involved on an individual, local state, by state level Now… to prevent that from happening.
    Get to know your neighbors, co-workers, those that are around you… and start having a discussion regarding all this, before it’s too late people. We only ourselves to blame if we allow this sort of shit to happen.
    Aloha !

  • tionico

    Whether this closure will affect ammunition supplies/costs or not is an issue… and my guess is that it will, if for no other reason than fears of shortage will drive prices higher.

    The ROOT ISSUE, however, is that an unelected unaccountable FedGov agency, under the Executive Branch of the FedGov, is making law (which ONLY Congress can do, legally) that affects individuals and companies on the state level…. prohibited by the COnstitution. The sheriff of that county SHOULD take a stand, anad tell the EPA to pound sand. What we have is a serious violation of liberty, unauthorised lawmaking, amd FedGov meddling on a level on whcih they totally lack authority. THOSE are root issues. As to ammunition, and hoarders, everyone shows up at the ammo counter at the same time, buys what they want to buy for the listed selling price. whether the first time gun owner looking for some practice rounds, or the hoarder looking for a few more boxes to join his thousands… no matter. Let the free market rule, as it does anyway. If some scalp, that can only happen of a willing buyer is found at that price. Too much? Don’t buy it. If I had the money I’d go into the ammunitoin manufacturing business, but I’d NOT do it in my present state of residence.

    Now an item for the “non problem” folks to consider.. if the kinyun is NOT after shorting ournammunition supplies, then WHY is he arranging to curtail and block import of ammunition made offshore? Which IS happening. Brands that have come in on a regular basis for years are not denied import permits. THAT little piece tends to put me into the camp of “they’re trying to limit/control ammunitoin suoplies”.

    • jwclark

      Sure the market forces will do what they do, and the root issue is as you put it, but behind that is a will and that is to put the public in a position where they are not able to defend themselves against tyranny.
      We already have a nation of sheep shepherded by yes-men and controlled by a huge cadre of lawyers, judges, and police. So, it seems they want the whole cake–not just 9/10 of the cake or more as they have now. We must understand what these morons want. These are monsters and very very dangerous.
      And remember this: Do not be confused when people talk about the tremendous strength of the government. It was always such. Remember that revolution is not about winning. Winning is a physical issue and concern. A revolution however is a spiritual thing. It is about being fed up. Do not forget this. It is not about winning. It is about whether or not you are willing to say no to continued abuses and the destruction of legitimate dreams. JWC

  • Dave911

    I suspect that if the owners were making any money off the smelter, they would not have let the government close them down. Could it be possible that buying lead from China will be cheaper? ;) I’m not sure I “buy” what the *spokesperson* for the smelter says anymore than what Barack Hussein Obama says. :p

  • veritas

    Don’t worry, with Mexico being part of CANAMEX and NAFTA and GATT and them having the largest lead reserves in the Western Hemisphere, they will gladly fill the jobs and build-up their industry. It is all part of the de-industrialization of country to bring us down to 3rd World status.