Nick O’Malley, the U.S. correspondent for Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald displays an above average amount of lying and/or willful ignorance in his latest piece, “Another textbook gun law victory for National Rifle Association.” O’Malley being an Australian, I would be willing to cut him a little slack when it comes to firearms knowledge and cartridge familiarity – if not for the fact that he is their American correspondent and should therefore be held to a higher standard than your average Aussie. He starts out by displaying a profound misunderstanding of what “grass roots” support means. . .
While political attention in the United States last week was focused on Hillary’s emails and the Republican Party’s attempts to derail nuclear negotiations with Iran, the National Rifle Association enjoyed yet another victory.
This time America’s most powerful lobby group managed to block a move to ban the free sale of armour-piercing bullets for handguns.
The fact of the matter is that the ATF received over eighty thousand comments and (according to this ATF Special Advisory) “the vast majority of the comments received to date are critical of the framework.” What people like Nick and Sarah Brady and Mayor Mike don’t seem to grasp is that this is not the result of the NRA (or GOA or SAF or JPFO) issuing marching orders to its paid flacks, shills and minions. Rather it’s the result of everyday folks finding out about a proposed ban and deciding to do something about it.
You saw this same sort of cluelessness about the l’affair Zumbo, when Jim Zumbo, the hunting editor of Outdoor Life, made some unfortunate comments on his blog and metaphorically was run out of town on a rail. To the antis it was obvious that the Eee-vil Gun Lobby® had flexed its collective muscle and destroyed Jim’s several careers. This is because people like Nick and Sarah and Mike have no concept of what true grass-roots movements are. Or refuse to acknowledge one where Americas’ gun owners are concerned.
Movements in which you have a wide swathe of the population pay attention to (for example) gun owners’ rights and are willing to exert some effort in support of them can truly be described as “grass roots.” Whether this entails contacting the commercial sponsor of someone who has betrayed those rights or showing up at the legislature or at a rally in support of the cause, a grass-roots movement is able to mobilize people in support if its cause.
What else does Nick have to say?
The so-called green tip ammunition – which is designed to pierce helmets and body-armour – has long been legal in America for use in AR–15 rifles. These are the military-style semi-automatic rifles that have become the most popular hunting and self-defence weapons in the nation after their high-profile use in the massacres in a Sandy Hook primary school and a Colorado cinema.
Okay, Nick is half-right here; the bullet was designed, in the 70s, to pierce helmets. Specifically the unenhanced steel helmets that used to be Soviet issue, specifically when fired from a rifle. He is, however, completely wrong that the AR-15 suddenly became popular after being used by a few psychotics in a couple of mass murders. Witness this article from HowStuffWorks.com which puts Bushmaster’s AR-15 smack in the middle of their “Top 5 Most Popular Guns – and Why” list. On November 3rd of 2009, more than 30 months before the Aurora shooting.
And just what the hell is he trying to imply by saying that the AR-15’s popularity soared after those two mass shootings? Does he think that all of us who own ARs are wannabe matricidal maniacs and mass murderers? Or is he just so pig ignorant that he doesn’t realize that when the antis start pushing for bans on something (as they did on the AR-15 after Sandy Hook especially) we start buying up that something while we still can?
But his obtuseness doesn’t limit itself to the dynamics of supply and demand.
The so-called M855 round, also known as the “cop killer”, is now the second most popular ammunition for use in America’s most popular rifle.
The original so-called “cop-killer” bullets were Teflon-coated tungsten rounds designed by KTW to pierce hard targets like windshield glass and car doors. They were commercially produced starting in the late 1960s ten years before Kevlar body armor was introduced. Like this current round of “cop-killer” bullets, there was never a single verified case of a cop every actually being killed by one. Don’t believe me? Well how about James Pasco, the executive director of the Washington office of the Fraternal Order of Police:
“Any ammunition is of concern to police in the wrong hands, but this specific round has historically not posed a law enforcement problem.“
As for the reason it is so popular, until this latest brouhaha with the ATF, it was cheap as most Mil-Surp ammo is. But Nick has proof, proof, PROOF I say!
He has proof that the M855 round is armor-piercing, and his proof consists of a home video (with, admittedly decent production values) showing that this round, when fired from a 24-inch rifle barrel can penetrate ¼ in of mild steel. In other words, it does exactly what it was designed to do.
But recently the industry developed a handgun variant of the AR-15 that can fire the armour piercing rounds.
Oh very nice. He implies that since the round being shot from a rifle is AP, then when it is shot from a pistol it must still be AP, without ever mentioning how much of a difference there is in the ballistics. Some might argue that, since he’s an Aussie he can’t be expected to know any better, but I will counter that any competent and honest reporter could easily find out that going from a 20” barrel down to a 5” barrel drops muzzle velocity from about 3,000 fps down to a little above 1,800 fps (as shown in this article from Small Arms Defense Journal).
Likewise such a mythical reporter could have discovered that the AR-15 pistol is far from a “recent” development. People have been kicking these designs around since before the expiration of the Clinton Ugly Gun Ban.
Ultimately, though, Nick gets to the root of his complaint:
The [ATF] … decided to act, on the grounds that even if hunters may legally use armour piercing rounds, they remain illegal for use in handguns.
What followed was a textbook demonstration of the extent of the power wielded by the NRA and the way it uses that power.
What Nick should have said is, “What followed was a textbook demonstration of the power of a true grass-roots organization,” because a few paragraphs later he lets the cat out of the bag.
The group also contacted its broader membership – of between four and five million – and invited them to contact their members of Congress. Within three weeks 80,000 people wrote submissions opposing the ban.
Not only were there over 80,000 comments made to the ATF, there were also tens of thousands of letters written to Congress-critters urging them to oppose this ban. Not to mention bi-partisan opposition coming from Congress as well.
The ATF’s capitulation was fast, complete and humiliating. “You spoke, we listened,” the agency mewled via tweet last week.
Yeah Nick, that is sort of the way things are supposed to work in a representative democracy; the people speak and the pols listen. Admittedly it is kind of rare that it happens that way, but when you get enough people riled up, sometimes even a Leviathan must take notice.
 Unfortunately until the media started howling about the KTW rounds, most BGs had no idea that most cops wore body armor. I have heard anecdotally that police mortality rates went up for a while because BGs started aiming for the head as a result.
 For the metric-ignorant (like me) out there, “nearly 6.35 millimetres” is ¼ inch.