According to Mark Glaze, the ATF’s proposed ban on M855 ball ammunition is designed to protect police from armor-piercing rounds. The former Everytown for Gun Safety mouthpiece reckons the fact that many common rifle bullets can do the same thing – and how – is neither here nor there. Nor is the doyen of civilian disarmament concerned that gun owners will be deprived of cartridges that they use the ammo for target shooting and hunting (a.k.a., “sporting purposes”). Gun owners should “use other target shooting ammunition that can’t pierce through the Kevlar vests that police officers wear on the streets.” Which is a problem . . .
That ammunition doesn’t exist.
Mark Glaze wants American gun owners to use ammunition that doesn’t pierce the “bulletproof” vests of police officers, but the fact of the matter is that any commercially available 5.56 ammunition will do that same job. The vests worn by cops simply aren’t designed to stop rifle rounds. We know this for a fact because our own Nick Leghorn tested standard ball 5.56 ammunition against a Level IIA vest, and it sliced through like a hot knife through butter.
Nor is there any ammunition in the intermediate or large rifle caliber range that will fail to penetrate a Level IIA vest. .308 Winchester? .30-06 Springfield? 7.62×39? All of these calibers will pass straight through a “bulletproof” vest, no matter what kind of projectile is used — “armor piercing” or not.
The whole M855 thing is due to the increasing popularity of AR pistols, guns that fire 5.56 bullets that can go through a Level IIA Kevlar vest. In ATF parlance, AR pistols are “commercially available handguns designed to use conventional rifle ammunition.” Again, the idea behind instituting the ban: AR pistols are”relatively small, concealable firearms” which criminals can load with green tip ammo to kill Kevlar-wearing cops.
That’s “can.” Not “are.” As Regis Giles points out in the video at the top, it hasn’t happened yet. Is it likely to happen? Well, bad guys have used AR-15 rifles against police, most famously in the North Hollywood shootout. Not to mention incidents where “sniper rifles” and “hunting guns” have been brought to bear on the boys in blue. Given the history of bad guy/cop shootouts, it’s unlikely that bad guys will shoot at cops with AR pistols … but not impossible.
But it’s also true that some rifles have folding stocks, which make them almost as concealable as an AR-15 pistol. And there’s nothing to stop bad guys from sawing off the barrel of a rifle to make it more concealable. Except of course, the law against doing so. As well as laws against shooting cops (and other innocent people).
The debate over the an M855 ammo ban comes against the backdrop of a previous handgun/ammunition contretemps. wikipedia.org enumerates:
In early 2005, the [FN FiveseveN] pistol was subject to controversy in the United States after the Brady Campaign stated that commercially available 5.7×28mm SS192 ammunition penetrated a Level IIA Kevlar vest in testing. The National Rifle Association (NRA) shortly countered the Brady Campaign’s claim by stating that the gun control group may not have adhered to standard testing procedures, and that FN only offers armor-piercing varieties of the 5.7×28mm cartridge to military and law enforcement customers. Varieties offered to civilians are classified by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) as not armor-piercing, and it was stated that the SS192 and SS196 cartridge variations were unable to penetrate various types of Kevlar vests in tests conducted by FNH USA.
Despite several attempts to do so, Congress (and the ATF) did not ban the FN FiveseveN pistol. Nor should we expect Congress or the Agency to attempt to ban AR pistols. Green tip ammo makers are unlikely to stop production. So the ATF’s decided to ban the AR pistol ammo.
Which makes no sense at all. ANY 5.56 bullet can penetrate a Level IIA vest. At the same time, you can buy a .308 pistol or a .30-06 pistol, whose rounds can also penetrate a Level IIIA Kevlar vest. The proposed ATF ban focuses on so-called “green tip” ammunition because the ATF claims that the bullet’s composition falls within the scope of existing (poorly defined and even more poorly researched) handgun-specific law.
So why bother banning green tip ammo? You could say it’s because the ATF is in the banning business, but I couldn’t possibly comment. Except to say this: Americans have a natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. The Second Amendment makes no mention of “sporting purposes” restrictions for guns or ammo. It has no exemptions for officer safety.
The law may allow for a ban on green tip ammo but it is both superfluous and unconstitutional. It would be a shame if the Attorney General pulls the trigger on the ban (after March 15th) despite these facts and the tremendous backlash from American gun owners. Given the nature of the beast the odds are the ATF will ban green tip ammo, forcing its defenders to take their case to the courts. A waste of time for sure, but just another battle to defend and extend American gun rights.