The New York Times is quite possibly the least gun friendly publication in the United States. They’ve previously shown an utter contempt and disregard for fact checking and proper use of statistics when their “conclusions” paint gun owners and gun ownership in a bad light, and today’s editorial is no different. Titled “Protect the Police From Armor-Piercing Bullets,” the article is a re-hash of all the major Obama administration talking points in an effort to portray M855 as a menace to society that needs to be stopped. Shockingly, however, the Times fails to use any actual logic, statistics, or facts to make their case. Instead they build their case for a ban solely on the emotional appeal of loaded phrases to trick their readers into falling in line with their agenda. Let’s take this apart piece by piece.
It all starts in the very first paragraph . . .
The nation’s police forces should be the first to rally behind a federal proposal to ban the sale and manufacture of the 5.56-millimeter steel-core bullet. The bullet can be used in newly adapted handguns to provide lethal force to pierce the vests and body armor used by law enforcement officers.
I’m going to stop you right there.
First, the Fraternal Order of Police, the lobbying body representing the nation’s police forces, have already made their opinion clear on this matter: they think banning M855 ammunition is pointless. But apparently the New York Times’ editorial board thinks that they know more about what police officers need than the police themselves, and want them to change their minds.
The main point that the New York Times uses in their argument is that M855 ammunition is “armor piercing.” Which it is, to a degree. M855 ammunition can penetrate the types of “bullet proof” vests commonly used by law enforcement officers. And so is M193, standard 55 grain 100% lead “normal” ammunition — equally as deadly, if not more so, and in the same caliber.
In fact just about every single centerfire rifle cartridge in production today will sail straight through a Type II “bullet proof” vest without a problem, something we outlined in our “The Truth About M855” article. The truth is that M855 is no more deadly or dangerous than any number of other similar calibers and projectile designs, but due to outdated ammunition and legal loopholes being exploited by the ATF it is the “low hanging fruit” of ammunition for the ATF to try and ban.
This ammo has been around for decades, though. Why does the New York Times think that this is something that needs to be done so urgently?
Until now, the powerful “M855 green tip” bullet has been legal for use in AR-15 semiautomatic rifles, typically used by target shooters and hunters. But the gun industry’s reckless development of new handguns that use the bullet — criminals prefer handguns over rifles — has led the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to sensibly propose banning it in the name of greater gun safety.
Its nice to see that the NY Times is finally acknowledging that the AR-15 is a fine hunting rifle, but as always its one step forward and two steps back with these people. They state that the impetus for the ban is that the Evil Gun Industry (TM) has recklessly developed a new handgun that can use this ammunition, and since criminals prefer handguns over rifles then naturally criminals will be using this new evil technology to kill cops.
Right. Blame the Evil Gun Industry (TM).
The AR pistol craze was started by home builders, not the gun industry. The insane National Firearms Act restrictions on barrel length for rifles forced people to become creative, and with the modularity of AR-15 firearms the ability to build a pistol version was the natural result. It wasn’t the Evil Gun Industry (TM) that started the craze, it was average citizens. In fact, firearms manufacturers were very reluctant to get into that market and are only now just starting to produce pistol versions of their guns. So blame the Evil Gun Industry (TM) all you want, but the truth is that they didn’t develop it.
Which is something the New York Times would know if they actually understood the firearms industry. But they don’t.
Further, despite much research, no one has ever been able to produce an example of an officer being shot with an AR-15 pistol using M855 ammunition — ever. AR-15 pistols have been around for years, so if this scourge of “cop killing” guns and ammo were to show up we should have seen at least a glimmer of it by now. But nope, just like every other prediction of blood in the streets made by the New York Times over firearms regulation, that mass murder has failed to materialize.
In fact, as we already know, “assault weapons” make up less than 2% of all firearms used in crimes. Even if we give the Times the benefit of the doubt and assume that every single one of those instances was an AR-15 pistol loaded with M855 ammunition, banning that ammo wouldn’t really have much of an impact at all on either officer involved fatalities or crime in general. So their claim that they “sensibly propose banning it in the name of greater gun safety” is pretty much statistically insignificant. In short, the impact would be negligible at worst and insignificant at best.
And even if the M855 ammo was banned, equally potent ammo is available right next to it on the shelf at Wal-Mart. What happens when M855 ammo is banned because it is “armor piercing,” and then a year or two later the Times demands that we “finish the job” by banning everything that can potentially go through a bullet proof vest? There goes every rifle cartridge, right down the drain.
Predictably, the gun lobby is marshaling gun owners and legislative allies to oppose the ban, falsely accusing the Obama administration of exceeding its authority through some backdoor attempt at gun control. The law, however, is clear: Armor-piercing handgun ammunition has been banned since 1986, and the firearms agency has the responsibility to regulate the law’s enforcement. The pending proposal is open to the standard 30-day public comment period (at APAComments@atf.gov) until March 16. After that, a final decision will be up to the attorney general’s office.
The NY Times wants you to believe that this is an open and shut case, that because the ammunition can go through a “bullet proof” vest that the ammunition should obviously be banned. But the truth couldn’t be more different, as the NY Times would understand if they took three seconds to actually read the statutes.
“Armor piercing” ammunition is banned in the United States not due to its performance but instead due to the composition of its projectile. The statute (18 U.S. Code § 921) requires that a projectile must be made “entirely” from a list of super-hard metals, excluding trace amounts of other materials, in order to meet that definition and be subject to the ban. In theory I could produce a 100% depleted uranium 9mm projectile loaded in a case with only a primer and no powder, and it would meet the definition of “armor piercing” but be unable to even pierce skin (much less leave the barrel of the gun).
In the case of M855, the projectile does not meet the definition. Nearly 80% of the projectile is composed of lead and copper, with only a small steel insert. To a common person this would not meet the definition of being “entirely” made of steel, unless you attempt to exploit the imprecise language of the statute for your own political purposes and define 20% to be the same as “entirely.”
So no, that’s a factual lie on the part of the New York Times: M855 ammunition does not meet the legal definition of “armor piercing” unless you have an activist Attorney General who plays fast and loose with definitions.
Police forces very much need the ban if officers are not to be exposed to a heightened threat to their lives. Two years ago, President Obama was rebuffed by Congress in his plea for stronger gun safety laws after the schoolhouse massacre of 20 children in Connecticut.
He promised further action on the issue, and a ban on armor-piercing bullets in handguns would be a major demonstration of the nation’s resolve to protect the police. The proposal would allow rifle owners to use up the lead-and-steel bullets they have already bought, and pure lead bullets of the same caliber would remain on the market.
The reason that the post-Newtown legislation failed is the same reason that people are pissed off about the M855 ban: all it does is inconvenience the law abiding American gun owner without any actual impact on reducing crime. Even if M855 ammunition were banned, equally deadly “ball” 5.56 ammunition is still commonly available and the evil AR-15 pistols that the NY Times has their knickers in a twist over would still be in every gun store in the United States. Nothing would have changed, except for choking off part of the ammunition supply to the American people.
The problem is that the New York Times Editorial Board doesn’t actually think about any of these proposals, all they care about is that access to firearms and ammunition is reduced or restricted. They don’t care about the Constitutional rights of Americans when it comes to background checks and firearms sales. They don’t care about actually reducing crime when talking about banning “evil assault rifles” or “armor piercing ammunition.” All they care about is whether the proposed legislation imposes more restrictive regulations on firearms, and they don’t care how its accomplished or whether the law makes logical sense. That’s why they discuss an ammunition ban and a background check proposal in the same breath as if they were equal, despite the fact that they are completely different approaches to completely different problems. They don’t care, they just want to “do something” about “gun violence.”
Republican allies of the gun lobby have submitted preposterous legislation to strip the firearms bureau of its authority to regulate ammunition.
This should be rejected out of hand, and the House should focus instead on a bipartisan proposal from Representatives Peter King, Republican of New York, and Mike Thompson, Democrat of California, to extend background checks on gun buyers, under the provision known as the Brady law, by closing a loophole that ignores sales online and at gun shows. The proposal, strongly supported by the public, drew 188 co-sponsors in the last Congress. It deserves enactment unhindered by the political machinations of the gun lobby.
It seems that the New York Times Editorial Board is failing to grasp one very important fact: the gun lobby isn’t about gun manufacturers. The NRA represents over four point five million American citizens, making it among the largest citizen lobbying organizations right up there with the AARP. It doesn’t take direction from the gun industry, instead it holds annual open meetings to discuss its agenda and allows the membership to vote on the direction of the organization.
The NRA takes direction from the millions of dues paying American citizens who make up its membership. But its a more emotionally appealing argument for the New York Times to ignore that fact and parrot the ages-old party line that the NRA is a puppet of the gun industry, and its the evil gun makers that want to murder America.
The fact is that M855 ammunition is no more deadly or dangerous than standard lead ammunition. Just like hollow point bullets are no more armor piercing than their round-nose brethren, another lie that the NY Times believes hook line and sinker. “Assault weapons” are no more deadly than their 1950’s counterparts. And AR-15 rifles cannot “blow up” railroads and shoot down airplanes. But those who believe that all guns are evil (and gun owners too) don’t care about the facts or the truth, they only care about emotional appeals that work towards their goal of eliminating gun ownership. They see gun ownership as a symptom of a brutal society, and in order to make their utopian dreams come true guns and their owners need to be removed so that peace can flourish. Which would be a nice idea, if it were based in any semblance of reality.
Once again, the New York Times has proven that when it comes to guns they don’t care about fact checking. They don’t care about presenting a truthful argument or an accurate representation of the facts. All they care about is forcing the narrative to fit their agenda, and as long as the ends justify the means they’re OK with that. And obviously, the Editorial Board knows way more about ballistics and the realities of policing than police officers themselves.