Let me start this article with the usual disclaimer that there are gun owners, and then there are gun nuts. I am a gun owner (even though I take flak for it from some folks on the left) and I believe in the right of private citizens who aren’t felons or mentally ill to own firearms for hunting or home defense. Gun owners realize that with the ownership of a firearm, certain responsibilities and limitations come with the right, and they don’t fantasize about shooting people they’re politically opposed to. Gun owners also don’t take to social media to suggest hanging lawmakers who don’t agree with them, attempt to silence opponents via mass intimidation, or threaten to kill a critic’s child and toss them in a blender. Yes, that actually happened, and that’s sadly what many gun nuts do.
Still don’t believe me? Yesterday, a local TV station in Baton Rouge (WAFB) reported on a government proposal to ban a specific style of 5.56/.223 ammunition which can pierce body armor worn by law enforcement officers. Needless to say, the gun nuts lost their minds over this and claimed it was another attempt by President Obama to create an “ammo ban” and take their guns. Here are a couple of screenshots from the comments section over at WAFB (click to enlarge).
First off, you have people who believe “marshell” law is coming and they need armor-piercing rounds to do what exactly? Other commenters suggested “working on our head shots” which indicates shooting members of law enforcement or the military in the head to get around body armor. These are the same folks who responded to the recent #BlackLivesMatter hashtag with #BlueLivesMatter and praised the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. They talk about supporting law enforcement and the military all the time, but are also prepared to gun them down in a martial law scenario? Granted, not everyone there subscribed to this mindset, but more than a couple did – and didn’t mind openly claiming it.
Other people claimed disingenuously that all rifle rounds go through soft body armor and that this was an attempt to ban a popular round for nefarious political purposes. That’s actually false since some rifle rounds have the same velocity as handgun rounds and not all rifle rounds are as fast as a .223 which moves at over 3,000 fps (feet per second), a speed higher than a .308 – or the 7.62x39mm round which is what is used in an AK-47.
Conservative clickbait sites, in an attempt to grab traffic from gun nuts, portrayed this as an “ammo ban” designed by President Obama to disarm conservative gun owners. A columnist over at Townhall.com wrote:
“The bottom line: This is a backdoor attempt by the Obama administration to make AR-15 sporting rifles, which the President and gun control zealots in Congress have tried to ban for a decade, inoperable. Guns are no good without ammunition and you can bet the Obama administration is fully aware of that fact” (Source)
This is completely untrue, and as Snopes.com points out, these specific rounds would be reclassified because at the time they were originally exempted in 1986, AR pistols were not on the market:
Applying the sporting purposes framework set-forth above, the 5.56mm projectile that ATF exempted in 1986 does not qualify for an exemption because that projectile when loaded into SS109 and M855 cartridges may be used in a handgun other than a single-shot handgun. Specifically, 5.56mm projectiles loaded into the SS109 and M855 cartridges are commonly used Framework for Deciding Sporting Purpose Ammunition pursuant to 18 USC 921(a) in both “AR-type” rifles and “AR-type” handguns.
The AR platform is the semi-automatic version of the M16 machinegun originally designed for and used by the military. The AR-based handguns and rifles utilize the same magazines and share identical receivers. These AR-type handguns were not commercially available when the armor piercing ammunition exemption was granted in 1986. To ensure consistency, upon final implementation of the sporting purpose framework outlined above, ATF must withdraw the exemptions for 5.56 mm “green tip” ammunition, including both the SS109 and M855 cartridges. (Source)
What’s the difference between an AR pistol and the .40 S&W I keep for personal protection? The .223 caliber rifle round moves almost 3 times as fast as the .40 caliber round and can pierce level III-A soft armor which is what many patrol officers wear. Yet, all the gun nuts are screaming about is that this is a plot by President Obama to infringe upon their 2nd Amendment rights, when in fact the president has absolutely nothing to do with it. Moreover, the original law, titled “Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act of 1985,” was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. As stated above by Snopes.com, these AR pistols weren’t available in 1986 and this is nothing more than the ATF attempting to update regulations based off new products entering the market. Yes, there are other high-velocity rifle bullets that can pierce soft or even hard body armor, but other than the 7.62×39 and 7.62×51 ammo used in an AR-10 or AK-47, they don’t tend to be chambered in a high-capacity, semi-auto rifle or pistol a criminal can use to spray dozens of rounds in a short period of time.
A police officer who is hit by a regular pistol round stands a good chance of surviving if that bullet hits his or her soft armor. Due to a lower velocity and the vest’s design which causes the bullet to mushroom against Kevlar fibers, the officer will likely incur a nasty bruise or perhaps a fractured rib, but the round will not actually penetrate flesh. However, one of these .223 rounds fired out of an AR pistol will defeat body armor, even at long range, and cause serious injury or death. This “ammo ban” isn’t a plot to disarm gun owners, it is simply to protect law enforcement officers – and judging by the comments I’ve seen by gun nuts lately, it’s a damn good idea.
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