Home>Legal>Rep. Austin Smith Calls Fed Court Ruling ‘Important Victory for Hunters, Sportsmen’

State Representative Austin Smith speaking on the floor of the Arizona House of Representatives at the Arizona State Capitol building in Phoenix, July 31, 2023. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Rep. Austin Smith Calls Fed Court Ruling ‘Important Victory for Hunters, Sportsmen’

9th Circuit Thwarts Another Attempt at Californicating Arizona

By Steve Kirwan, September 21, 2023 7:29 am

Arizona State Representative Austin Smith (R-29) is celebrating a huge win for Arizona hunters and 2nd Amendment supporters. A decision by the 9th Circuit ended an eleven-year battle effort by the far-left Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) to ban lead ammunition. Rep. Smith, vice-chairman of the state’s House Natural Resources, Energy & Water Committee, is calling it a significant win.

In a press release dated Sept. 19, 2023, Smith said, “The 9th Circuit decision is an important victory for hunters, sportsmen, and shooting enthusiasts across Arizona who, like me, are committed to upholding the values and traditions that have defined our great state for generations. As a 5th generation Arizona hunter and angler, I’m pleased to see this 11-year attempt to regulate ammunition by the radical gun control and anti-hunting lobby fail. The ruling sets a crucial precedent, sending a clear message that attempts to stifle the rights of law-abiding citizens and undermine our hunting heritage on the Kaibab will not prevail.”

The complex case, filed in 2012, stated that “lead ingestion and poisoning attributable to spent ammunition has been documented in a number of avian species in Arizona’s Forest Service land, including endangered California condors, bald and golden eagles, northern goshawks, ferruginous hawks, turkey vultures, and common ravens.” Although the judges confirmed a federal ban on lead ammo for waterfowl hunting nationwide more than 30 years ago, it’s currently allowed.

CBD argued that USFS had a special duty to regulate lead ammo disposal related to hunting activities under the EPA’s 1976 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act provisions, which govern the treatment, storage, and disposal of solid and hazardous waste. Judge Bybee stated that the only way USFS would be responsible would be with a direct legal requirement. He said the general provisions of the RCRA “imposes no greater or lesser duty on an agency of the United States than it imposes on any other person.”

“If USFS required hunters to use lead ammunition, our analysis might be different,” Bybee wrote. “But within the Kaibab, USFS has no actual control over lead ammunition at the time it is discharged by hunters. An agency’s choice not to regulate despite authority to do so does not manifest the type of actual, active control contemplated by RCRA.”

Arguments that the Forest Service is liable because it owns the land also failed. “We conclude that something more than mere ownership is required to establish contributor liability under RCRA,” the opinion stated.

Representative Smith, an outspoken hunting and gun enthusiast, serves Legislative District 29, encompassing Goodyear, Surprise, El Mirage, Youngtown, Wittmann, Morristown, and Allah. He is also a member of Municipal Oversight & Elections and Ways & Means Committees.

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