Hunters packed a legislative committee room Thursday afternoon to watch the House Natural Resources Committee vote on a proposal that would let hunters use lead shot during dove hunting season. The Iowa Natural Resources Commission voted last summer to ban lead shot during dove season, but Representative Guy Vander Linden of Pella called that an overreach.
“In the House last year we specifically voted on a lead shot ban and voted it down. The Natural Resources Commission took it upon themselves to reverse that and that to me is the issue here,” Vander Linden said, “not the lead shot, but that a commission is trying to usurp the authority of the legislature.”
The committee voted 17-to-four to overturn the commission’s decision to require non-toxic steel shot during dove hunting season. Representative Sharon Steckman of Mason City argued “the science is there” to indicate lead is a danger to humans and animals.
“They’ve taken it out of paint,” she says. “They’ve taken it out of everything.” Representative Curtis Hanson of Fairfield was another “no” vote on the issue.
“I’m concerned about the overall impact, the overall consequences, the cumulative effect of lead in our environment,” Hanson said. “Until that science is clear, I think that we should err on the side of safety.” Iowa Firearms Coalition president Jeff Burkett says non-toxic steel shot may not be appropriate for some guns.
“There’s some concern about, especially the older the gun is, about the safety of using steel shot, doing damage to the gun,” Burkett says. “And so there is a legitimate public safety concern that we have.”
Steel shot could cause an older gun to malfunction, according to Burkett, injuring the hunter who’s firing it and others who might be nearby. The issue next goes before the full House for debate.