What is the Deal with Doe Run?
By Harold Hutchison
The announcement by the Doe Run Company that it would be closing its primary lead smelter in Herculaneum, Missouri, due to regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency that were enacted in 2008, engendered a very strong reaction from supporters of the Second Amendment. In a release on 25 October, 2013, about the closing of the facility, the NRA-ILA noted that it was the only primary lead smelter in the country.
Primary lead smelters are able to extract lead from lead ore that is mined. As a result, the closing of the Herculaneum smelter meant that from mining to final production, ammunition could be manufactured completely within the United States of America. There would be no reliance on a foreign country. Concern about that situation was understandable. Without ammunition, firearms are useless.
“What is clear is that after the Herculaneum smelter closes its doors in December, entirely domestic manufacture of conventional ammunition, from raw ore to finished cartridge, will be impossible,” the NRA release concluded. Former Representative Allen West added, “What this all means is that after December 2013, any ammunition that will be available to US citizens will have to be imported, which will surely increase the price and possibly come under government control. It seems this is fully in concert with the US Military and Homeland Defense recent purchase of large quantities of ammunition.”
But is it? It turns out that there is one other means by which lead for ammunition is being acquired: Secondary lead smelters, which recycle lead from older products, which provide 80% of the lead used in the United States.
According to a report by TheBlaze.com, these secondary smelters provide most of the lead used by ammunition manufacturers. The news site tied to talk-show host Glenn Beck noted that Sierra Bullet Company stated, “[W]e do not see any reason for alarm. We expect our supply to continue and keep feeding our production lines which are still running 24 hours per day to return our inventory levels to where they should be.”
Jeff Hoffman, owner of Black Hills Ammunition, echoed that sentiment, saying, “So far none of our suppliers expect that to be a problem.” Multiple other ammunition companies have also said that the closure of the primary lead smelter will not have any effect on their production as well. Only ten percent of lead used in the United States is obtained via mining, and due to the fact that many ammunition makers deny they use “primary” lead in their products, it is an open question as to whether or not the closure will have an effect on ammunition production and supplies.
Washington Times editorial writer Emily Miller quoted Lawrence Keene of the National Shooting Sports Foundation as saying “The EPA closing, which has been in the works for a while, will have no impact on production, supply or cost to the consumers.”
Much of the ammo shortage has been due to a great deal of demand from consumers – which has occurred in the year prior to Obama’s re-election. Many ammo manufacturers are now working three shifts on a 24/7 schedule to keep up with the demand, which went even higher after the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
That being said, there is a growing push to wipe out the use of lead ammunition – mostly from environmental groups, who convinced California Governor Jerry Brown to sign legislation banning the use of traditional ammunition. There is a chance that the use of copper ammunition could be restricted due to prohibitions on so-called “cop-killer” bullets. Certainly, the lawless actions of the Obama administration on immigration and Operation Fast & Furious raise concerns.
At this time, there is no evidence that the closure of the primary lead smelter owned by Doe Run is going to affect ammunition supply or prices. However, to protect your right to bear arms, JOIN THE NRA! DO IT NOW!