Editorial: Epekho

The headline above is ancient Greek, meaning: “I suspend judgment.” It is the skeptical philosopher’s (or newspaperman’s) response to dogmatic assertions – a polite and masterful way to avoid agitated argument with someone whose opinions seem off the mark, yet who seems unlikely to ever change those opinions. So it is that in recent weeks the Rappahannock News has reported on the controversy about allowing hunting on Sunday but has not taken sides.

On another hunting controversy, however, the newspaper will take an editorial position and suspend judgment no longer. We need to eliminate lead from all hunting ammunition!

We have already outlawed lead from paint (1978) and gasoline (1995), and even the Republican Congress has not called these “job-killing government regulations” that need to be repealed. The reason is simple:

Plumbism. That’s the fancy name for lead poisoning, the medical condition caused by toxic levels of heavy metal lead in the body. When lead is ingested, the body mistakes it for beneficial metals, incorporating it into the brain, eyes, kidneys, liver and other vital tissues. The nervous systems in the developing bodies and brains of children are particularly vulnerable.

Man may be the measure of all things — but only when in harmony, not conflict, with nature. For what affects humans naturally affects our fellow creatures as well. So it was that in 1991, lead shot for hunting waterfowl was banned in the United States. But for other hunting, as well as fishing tackle, lead is still allowed.

Most humans survive plumbism, albeit with diminished mental and motor function, but wildlife require full capacity to survive. So wildlife deaths attributed to to predation, starvation, roadkill or other collisions often are in fact due to plumbism. So far 130 species have been known to ingest lead ammunition. Specifically, local landowners report recent deaths of eagles, hawks and owls as likely caused by plumbism.

Sportsmen have cheap, readily available alternatives to lead. Let’s get the lead out now.

Walter Nicklin