The White House said Monday that President Obama believes a ban on bullets commonly used with the AR-15 rifle will save police officers’ lives.
“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,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is accepting public comment on an administration proposal to ban .223 M855 “green tip” ammunition most often used with AR-15 rifles. House lawmakers from both parties, as well as sportsmen and some law enforcement officials, are objecting the move.
Mr. Earnest called it a “common-sense step.”
“The president has long believed that there are some common-sense steps that we can take … to ensure that 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,” he said.
Mr. Earnest added, “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.”
Two top House Republicans, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, said the administration is on an “illegitimate path” and vowed to stop the proposal with legislation if necessary.
“The Obama administration sees no bounds in its attempt to push its left-wing agenda through executive fiat,” they said in a statement. “Because the president failed to ban certain firearms in the past, the administration is now twisting current law to go after ammunition. This is unacceptable.”
More than 100 members of Congress have signed a letter opposing the move on ammo.
“[The ban] will interfere with Second Amendment rights by disrupting the market for ammunition that law abiding Americans use for sporting and other legitimate purposes,” reads the letter addressed to ATF Director Todd Jones.
In their letter to Mr. Jones, lawmakers disputed the administration’s claim that a ban would provide added protection for police.
“Millions upon millions of M855 rounds have been sold and used in the U.S., yet the ATF has not even alleged, much less offered evidence, that even one such round has been fired from a handgun at a police officer,” they wrote.
A top official with the firearms industry’s trade association called the White House’s argument “bogus.”
“All rifle ammo made with lead ammo is able to penetrate a soft body ‘vest’ because of the high velocity of rifle rounds,” said Lawrence Keane, senior vice president and general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. “So banning M855 does not advance law officer safety. No police officer has ever been shot and killed with a so-called ‘armor piercing’ bullet fired from a handgun that penetrated a vest.”