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House bill would ban AR-15 bullet

Democrats are pressing new legislation in the House that would ban forms of armor-piercing ammunition.

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) is pushing the Armor Piercing Bullets Act followingthe Obama administration’s decision earlier this week to withdraw a controversial proposal that would restrict 5.56 mm projectiles for M855 cartridges commonly used in AR-15 rifles.

“Armor-piercing rounds like green tips should only be in the hands of military personnel or police officers, period,” Engel said. “There is absolutely no compelling argument to be made for anyone else to have access to them.”

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“But the out-of-touch gun industry lobby is fighting tooth and nail to keep cop-killing ammunition on the streets. We need to speak up on behalf of our police officers and say ‘stop the madness, ’” he added.

Engel's legislation, expected to be introduced Friday, would restrict the sale of the 5.56 mm projectiles, which can can penetrate police body armor.

"Deers do not wear body armor,” a spokesman for Engel joked. “No, I have never met a deer that walks around in Kevlar.”

Even as they pursue legislation, congressional Democrats are also pushing for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to move ahead with restrictions on the armor-piercing bullets.

The ATF had sought to prohibit gun companies from manufacturing or selling 5.56 mm projectiles for M855 cartridges, but shelved the plan after an outcry from gun groups and congressional Republicans.

Dozens of Democrats, including including Reps. Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.), Jackie Speier (Calif.) and Steve Israel (N.Y.), are expected to sign a letter that will be sent on Friday to ATF Director B. Todd Jones asking him to reconsider the plan.

Speier is also planning to introduce her own piece of legislation next week that would more broadly ban forms of armor-piercing ammunition. 

This story was updated with additional information at 4:30 p.m.