Roughly a year ago the ATF reclassified certain kinds of 5.45x39mm ammunition as “armor piercing” and banned them from importation. This has only been possible with the explosion in “pistol” versions of magazine fed firearms like the AK-74 and AR-15, giving the ATF the legal foothold they need to meet the regulatory requirements for the existing “armor piercing” ammunition ban on the books. One importation company in Redmond, Washington had been given permission to import millions of these rounds from Russia but with the ATF’s change of heart they suddenly found themselves in possession of a metric buttload of ammunition that could not legally be imported into the United States. They did what any red blooded American would do: they sued the Federal Government. A judge in Seattle ruled today, and it isn’t good for those hoping to have their cheap ammo back.
P.W. Arms sued saying the bureau misinterpreted the definition of armor piercing bullets under federal law.
U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour disagreed he ruled they contain a steel core and can be fired from a handgun.
The judge noted P.W. Arms never disputed the bullets can pierce body armor and called the company’s arguments disingenuous.
While the judge is technically correct that (A) the ammunition can be fired from a handgun and (B) it can pierce body armor, so can a wide array of other projectiles. Standard lead core 5.56mm NATO ball ammunition is capable of piercing the type of body armor commonly used by law enforcement, and that ammo is also capable of being fired from a handgun. The issue in this case which P. W. Arms is trying to point out is that the law as written is ineffective, allowing some “armor piercing” ammunition to enter the country while prohibiting other “armor piercing” ammunition simply because the projectile isn’t made out of lead.
To the firearms proficient the law seems arbitrary and capricious. But then again, that seems to be the case with a number of gun control regulations which have passed judicial muster recently.