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Truths and lies about the European Union: What happened to the ban on lead in ammunition

Gun policy is a topic that comes up all the time in Western countries. The discussion arises especially after terrorist attacks and other acts of violence where firearms played a major role. The European Commission’s proposal to ban lead in shotgun ammunition, which will eventually come into effect in January 2023, has caused great controversy in the Czech Republic, with a limitation to wetlands. Ultimately, health and safety played a role, but for environmental reasons, not criminal ones.

The European Commission’s proposal to ban lead in shotgun ammunition, which will eventually come into effect in January 2023, has caused great controversy in the Czech Republic, with a limitation to wetlands. Ultimately, health and safety played a role, but for environmental reasons, not criminal ones.

| Photo: Deník/Roman Dušek

On May 1, 2004, the Czech Republic expanded the map of the European community and joined the European Union. Access to a common policy and rules gave impetus to the emergence of popular creativity of residents and politicians, who during the following decades also spread various rumors or distorted the facts.

European Union at the same time, she was not the only architect of this change. A certain ban on lead shot was actually proposed by the legislation even before joining the European Union. What was the role of the EU, what was the role of domestic legislation and why the ban came into force in the first place, you can find out in the overview of the Journal.

Claim: Due to European laws, lead shot is not allowed to be used, although others are less effective

Where did the problem start and who did it affect the most?

Scientific research has confirmed that lead in bullets can have a negative impact on the environment in aquatic and wetland ecosystems. And thus endangers the health condition of water birds and predators. “In Europe, lead poisons an estimated one million birds a year. A high dose leads directly to their death, if a small amount gets into an individual’s body, the animal cannot digest food, its heart does not work well, lead paralyzes its nervous system, disrupts its reproduction. And there is no minimum yet acceptable dose, lead is harmful in any amount,” she stated Czech Ornithological Society.

Lead ban then he asserted himself not only for the sake of aquatic animals, but also for the sake of people. For example, because of the consumption of wild ducks and geese, which in autumn hunts are organized by hunters. They were the ones who were the most against the ban. They mainly drew attention to the fact that lead is the most reliable material as ammunition, and alternatives, for example in the form of steel, will cause a lot of inconvenience. Steel has a lower density, so it loses speed and energy more significantly, and is therefore less vulnerable. There is a real danger that he will suffer needlessly. A complication was the need for some hunters to change their arsenal.

Did the European Union want to cancel the letter Ř in Czech? We dispel myths about the EU:


European Parliament building in Strasbourg.  Illustrative image

Myths and facts about the European Union. How was it with the intended ban of the letter Ø

“Some older weapons are not designed for steel shot at all. Then there is a risk that the shooting can destroy the weapon, in the worst case, the shooting can be inaccurate and therefore dangerous,” explained some time ago for Deník Dominik Schrammmanager of the Czech Ammunition company, which deals in the sale of weapons and ammunition.

But the protests were useless, for the hunting season in autumn 2023, lead shot was no longer allowed. The regulation prohibits within 100 meters of wetlands and in them. There has been a lot of lively debate about what a wetland is. According to some extreme interpretations, it could literally be any puddle. Places eventually on the map defined by the Nature and Landscape Protection Agency.

How was it really?

According to the statement of the Ministry of the Environment (MŽP) the currently valid ban on shooting lead shot in wetlands was a legislative amendment that ultimately resulted purely from the transfer of European legislation to Czech. But even the Czech Republic itself has not been completely inactive in this regard in the last twenty years. And even before the Czech Republic even joined the EU.

In the Czech Republic, Act No. 449/2001 on Hunting, as amended, regulated the use of lead shot. “When it was adopted in 2001, the Act on Hunting contained a ban on the use of lead shot cartridges when hunting all waterfowl, while a transitional period until the end of 2010 was set for the application of this ban,” Veronika Krejčí, spokeswoman for the Ministry of the Environment, confirmed to Deník.

European legislation has banned lead shot in and around wetlands. It’s a complication for hunters:


Duck hunting.

Weapons trials and animal suffering concerns. Hunters are in for their first lead-free season

Subsequently, the wording of the ban was modified by an amendment from 2013 so that it only covered the hunting of waterfowl on wetlands. Since December 31, 2010, the Czech Republic has banned the use of lead shot cartridges for hunting waterfowl in wetlands.

And why wasn’t the regulation followed and waited until the EU ban? This was due to the unclear interpretation of the concept of wetlands, which is not anchored in Czech legislation in any way. “The Ministry of Agriculture, as the manager of the Act on Hunting, related the term “wetland” only to wetlands of international importance defined in the Czech Republic on the basis of the Ramsar Convention, in this it did not agree with the MoE. The definition contained in the European regulation clarified this,” explained department spokeswoman Krejčí.

Verdict of the Journal: Half-truth

On May 1, 2004, the Czech Republic expanded the map of the European community and joined the European Union. Access to a common policy and rules gave impetus to the emergence of popular creativity of residents and politicians, who during the following decades also spread various rumors or distorted the facts.

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