A victory for Second Amendment supporters in Washington DC has led to an unusual conflict between a Democratic congressman and the Obama Administration.
Rep. Steve Israel (D-New York) is pressuring the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to go ahead with a ban on common ammo used in the AR-15 rifle.
The bureau scrapped the ban in March after criticism from the NRA, gunowners and Congressional Republicans. The ATF claimed the ban was withdrawn for further study.
“The ATF’s decision to cave to the gun lobby and allow life-threatening armor-piercing bullets to remain on the streets is not only reckless, but cowardly,” Israel said in a press release at the time. The ammo in question is the M855 ball.
Israel is trying to pressure acting ATF Director Thomas Brandon to revive the ammunition ban, The Hill reported. Brandon replaced former Director Todd B. Jones, who left the agency in April.
“This was sloppily handled and as a result the outcome was surprising, disappointing and even confusing,” Israel said of the ATF’s proposed ban and then reversal. “I hope under the new leadership the ATF can have a more transparent and responsive process.”
Israel is apparently the leader of a group of Democrats who are pressuring the ATF to revive the ban. The NRA and other critics had claimed that the ban would open the door to broad restrictions on all manner of ammunition. It could effectively prevent people from using the AR-15, because the 5.56 mm projectiles are a common ammunition for that weapon.
“The question remains, why would a civilian need to walk the streets with a handgun chambered with military-grade, armor-piercing ammunition?” Jonathan Hutson, a spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, told The Hill.
Democrats Try to Save Ammunition Ban
Israel and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-California) have introduced legislation, the Modernize Law Enforcement Protection Act, which would require the US attorney general to ban any ammo that could penetrate bulletproof vests. That would effectively ban the sale of many types of rifle ammunition in the United States.
It is doubtful that Israel’s law would get anywhere because Republicans now control both chambers of Congress. But Israel is hoping that the ATF will use the powers it already has to ban the ammo. That law gives the ATF the power to restrict or ban the sale of any ammunition that could penetrate police body armor.
Gun experts, though, say Israel has his facts wrong.
“M855 is not armor-piercing by any legal definition,” Bob Owens of BearingArms.com wrote. “This applies to both civilian law, and by military definition (where armor-piercing ammunition such as the M995 has a black tip).
“Further, M855 is simply not a threat to police officers, according to both hard data — there is no record in U.S. history of a police officer being shot through body armor with M855 ammunition via an AR-15 pistol — and the professional opinion of the world’s largest law enforcement organization, the Fraternal Order of Police.”
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