Florida environmentalists say spent casings at shooting ranges could make people sick and they want these ranges to clean up their act, but gun lobbyists say this battle is just an attempt to restrict the rights of gun owners.
There are more than 400 shooting ranges around Florida, and environmentalists fear some of them could be pumping poison into the surrounding land.
Spent bullets leach lead and arsenic, but now lawmakers are considering granting immunity to the ranges so they wouldn't have to pay for clean-up and couldn't be sued for pollution.
Environmental attorney David Ludder is furious.
“Shooting ranges and the users of the shooting ranges have made the mess. They should be providing the funds to cleanup the mess. It should not fall on the taxpayers,” says Ludder.
But gun rights advocates say this isn't an environmental issue. It's really an attack on the second amendment. Former NRA President Marion Hammer says municipalities are trying to close the ranges and take their property.
“This is not about lead. This is not about the environment. This is about shutting down ranges and it is indeed back-door gun control,” says Hammer.
The gun lobby says shooting ranges were around long before environmental laws went into effect and shouldn't have to pay the price.
Rep. Arthenia Joyner disagrees.
“Why should the owners of gun ranges or anyone else for that matter be given carte blanche of some special privilege that would allow them to pollute willy-nilly in this state?”
The governor is so far sitting on the fence on the issue, suggesting each gun range should be handled separately.
The bill to grant immunity to shooting ranges passed one senate committee unanimously Wednesday, but still faces another committee test before it goes on to the full Senate for a vote.
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