ATF and Obama to Ban Common 5.56mm Rifle Ammo As “Armor-Piercing” Despite Its Own Statutory Definition
Gun rights community sees a disturbing ongoing crackdown on common ammo availability via ATF fiat. The ATF says it wants to ban M855 ball ammunition, a .223 (or 5.56 mm) rifle bullet that has been used by American citizens for decades. The ATF says it wants to ban this popular bullet because it is “armor piercing.”
The law at the basis of this debate is the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA). As amended, the GCA prohibits the import, manufacture and distribution of “armor piercing ammunition” as defined by a few terms Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice (DOJ) is attempting to broaden.
The definition for what constitutes “armor piercing” reads: “a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely … from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium.”
The ATF allows a “sporting exemption” for certain ammo that would otherwise be legally considered armor-piercing, but they claim because now weapons they consider more handgun than rifle can or are using the same ammo, that they are withdrawing that exemption for the M855.
ATF acknowledges so many citizens who thought they were being law-abiding have this ammo, so mere possession will not be illegal going forward if this becomes settled policy, but making, importing, or selling it will be verboten. (GunsSavesLives website calls the ammo “arguably” the second most popular for AR-15s in the U.S.)
Bob Owens at the Bearing Arms site explains in further detail why M855 ammo is not, by ATF’s own definition, bannable as “armor-piercing,” mostly because it is mostly made of lead. Because of this, a careful reader could see the ATF’s new proposed “framework” for armor-piercing to be directly contradicting itself.
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Obama to ban bullets by executive action
As promised, President Obama is using executive actions to impose gun control on the nation, targeting the top-selling rifle in the country, the AR-15 style semi-automatic, with a ban on one of the most-used AR bullets by sportsmen and target shooters.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives this month revealed that it is proposing to put the ban on 5.56 mm ammo on a fast track, immediately driving up the price of the bullets and prompting retailers, including the huge outdoors company Cabela’s, to urge sportsmen to urge Congress to stop the president.
“The Obama administration was unable to ban America’s most popular sporting rifle through the legislative process, so now it’s trying to ban commonly owned and used ammunition through regulation,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA-ILA, the group’s policy and lobby shop. “The NRA and our tens of millions of supporters across the country will fight to stop President Obama’s latest attack on our Second Amendment freedoms.”
But now BATFE says that since the bullets can be used in semi-automatic handguns they pose a threat to police and must be banned from production, sale and use. But, as Goodlatte noted, the agency offered no proof. Federal agencies will still be allowed to buy the ammo.
Many see the bullet ban as an assault on the AR-15 and Obama’s back-door bid to end production and sale. “We are concerned,” said Justin Anderson with Hyatt Gun Shop in Charlotte, N.C., one of the nation’s top sellers of AR-15 style rifles. “Frankly, we’re always concerned when the government uses back-door methods to impose quasi-gun control.”
Groups like the National Shooting Sports Foundation suggest that under BATFE’s new rule, other calibers like popular deer hunting .308 bullets could be banned because they also are used in AR platforms, some of which can be turned into pistol-style guns.