The old joke about government covering up wrongdoing is, “Move along folks, nothing to see here.” But that’s exactly what the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) told Americans last week after being caught changing the rules to ban AR-15 M855 “green tip” ammunition without a proper public commenting period or congressional approval. This is no laughing matter.
Under the guise of law enforcement safety, the ATF introduced a “proposal” in February banning commonly used AR-15 green-tip ammunition, citing “armor piercing” capabilities as justification. The problem? The ATF had already changed the rules in its 2014 Regulation Guidebook, stripping the exemption.
When the discrepancy was pointed out and scrutinized, the ATF released a statement reassuring the public that no final decisions had been made about the ban, citing a “publishing mistake.”
“Nothing to analyze here folks, just a publishing mistake. No Armor Piercing ammo exemptions revoked,” the official ATF Headquarters Twitter account sent late Friday night.
The ATF has advised the public to reference the 2005 Regulation Guidebook, where the ammunition is still exempted.
“Media reports have noted that the 2014 ATF Regulation Guide published online does not contain a listing of the exemptions for armor piercing ammunition, and conclude that the absence of this listing indicates these exemptions have been rescinded. This is not the case. Please be advised that ATF has not rescinded any armor piercing ammunition exemption, and the fact they are not listed in the 2014 online edition of the regulations was an error which has no legal impact on the validity of the exemptions,” an ATF Notice of Publishing Error said. “The existing exemptions for armor piercing ammunition, which apply to 5.56 mm (.223) SS 109 and M855 projectiles (identified by a green coating on the projectile tip)... remain in effect.”
Now that the ATF has verified the exemption still exists and will republish its new guidebook, let’s get to the details of the ban.
The proposal was issued under the guise of law enforcement safety, with ATF officials saying the ban is necessary to protect officers from “armor piercing” AR-15 green-tip ammunition, should it be used in a handgun. This ban is strongly supported by the White House, which isn’t surprising, given President Obama’s long-held positions against the Second Amendment.
“The president has long believed there are some common-sense steps that we can take to ... ensure we’re protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans while also taking some common-sense steps to prevent people who shouldn’t have guns from getting them. In this case, we’re talking about an ATF proposal that’s being considered through its standard process and it’s open now for public comment,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said at a daily briefing last week about the proposed ban. “It would be fair to say that we are looking at additional ways to protect our brave men and women in law enforcement and believe that this process is valuable for that reason alone,” he said. “This seems to be an area where everyone should agree: that if there are armor-piercing bullets available that can fit into easily concealed weapons, that it puts our law enforcement at considerably more risk.”
Earnest wouldn’t specifically deny the proposal was a move to impose new restrictions on ammunition through executive action rather than going through Congress.
There are two very important things to consider about this proposal.
The first and most important aspect is how the government defines “armor piercing.” Any type of centerfire rifle ammunition — and there are hundreds, including the AR-15 green tip — can penetrate a law enforcement vest. If the ATF can ban this type of ammunition under the argument that it is “armor piercing,” it can ban all centerfire ammunition.
Second, the Obama administration has argued this ban is necessary to protect law enforcement, when there is zero evidence to show green-tip ammunition poses a special threat to law enforcement.
“Any ammunition is of concern to police in the wrong hands, but this specific round has historically not posed a law enforcement problem,” Fraternal Order of Police Executive Director James Pasco told the Washington Examiner recently.
As a reminder, Obama nominated Debo P. Adegbile, a cop killer advocate, last year to head up the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, making the argument that the White House is somehow concerned about officer safety laughable. Not to mention Obama’s personal dealing with anti-cop zealot Al Sharpton.
This proposal isn’t about armor-piercing ammunition or protecting police officers. It’s about banning ammunition widely used in America’s most popular, and Obama’s most hated, rifle: the AR-15. This ban must be stopped, and Congress has an obligation to act immediately.
Pavlich is the news editor for Townhall.com and a Fox News contributor.