M855 Ammo Ban: A Bullet Dodged.
by Novislav Djajic on April 7, 2015 - 1:02pm
Late in the month of February, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) had proposed a ban on a popular variety of ammunition known as M855 ‘green tip’ ball ammunition, a type of 5.56x45mm NATO (.223 cal) round that is sold as military surplus after it fell out of use with the US military (although it still sees some use in training) and has been a popular round for AR type rifle users for a couple of decades. The ATF has gone on to state that they are looking to ban this type of ammunition for its ‘armor piercing’ properties and its capability of penetrating any level 2 soft body armor, commonly worn by police officers throughout the United States (in which the intent of the ban is intended to protect the men and women in uniform).
The basis of this proposed ban stemmed from the 1968 Gun Control Act (amended in 1986 as part of the Gun Owners Protection Act), which the main points of the legislation are as follows (these are items that are banned):
“(i) a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium; or
(ii) a full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.”
Now, the law as indicated here covers ammunition for handguns, so the first question one would ask is this ‘why are they going after rifle caliber ammunition?’ Well, a number of manufacturers have put what are called ‘AR pistols’ on the market, which are really just shortened AR-15 rifles without butt stocks (and you never find those in evidence lockers).
The proposed ban was shelved, for the time being anyways, as there was massive backlash from the American firearms community who opposed this back door gun control legislation (because the banning of AR type rifles and other ‘assault weapons’ failed when President Obama attempted to sign it into executive order, the outcry of the public stopped it in its tracks, so now the various government agencies in charge of administering firearms law such as the ATF are attempting to make firearms ownership financially unfeasible and impotent by banning things that is needed to operate the firearms, like ammunition). Not only that, this ban didn’t even fit the criteria of the 1968 Gun Control Act as M855 ball ammunition is not classified as an armor piercing round, not even by military definition, as M855 was not designed for piercing armor anyhow (unlike M995 ‘black tip’ ammunition which has a tungsten core), its core is still made of lead and it was designed to propel the projectile at a faster velocity and achieve greater distance (because this small caliber projectile travelled faster ballistics greatly suffered, which is why the military phased it out of use).
The technicalities and legalities of this whole situation is a subject for another time, what needs to be talked about here is the media coverage that this whole event received, or lack thereof.
Back in 2012, when the President proposed an assault weapons ban (which was intended to be a more permanent version of the Clinton Crime Bill, also known as the Federal Assault Weapons Ban) after the tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook elementary school, it received widespread news media coverage. At the same time, organizations such as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and Moms Demand Action put out their own media campaigns in order to promote support for it. Of course, since they put the issue into the public eye, pro-gun advocates were aware of the impending gun control measures. This led to various counter campaigns speaking out against the proposed legislation, not only from the big lobbyists such as the National Rifle Association and the Gun Owners of America, but from the gun owners their selves.
Since gun control legislation failed when brought to the table outright, the administration had to go through back channels in order to implement their laws, working through agencies such as the ATF. In fact, they saw success when they went after 7N6 5.45x39mm Eastern European surplus ammo (commonly used in the AK-74 rifle). Because the AK-74 type of sporting rifle is not as popular in the US as any AR types, very few people spoke up about it, and it got no mainstream media coverage. The ATF was therefore able to get away with imposing a ban on this type of ammunition. Of course, when the M855 was proposed to be banned, there was no main stream media coverage, but there were plenty of AR-15 owners, many of them acting as watchdogs for lawmaking like this. It was they who brought the issue to social media and media sharing sites to make people aware of the incoming back door gun control. Deontologically speaking, if a government is planning on enacting a ban on a commodity or restricting a freedom, people should be made aware.
Think of it like this, what if the government was attempting to legislate away right related to the First Amendment (free speech), you would certainly want to know about it, right? Wouldn’t it be simply outrageous if a governing body put it to a vote without consulting the people?