“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. 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. 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.”
The above quote is by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. There are some bold claims in the above statement, and the White House appears to have no hesitation when it comes to using law enforcement as pawns to push what can only be described as a complete lie and false narrative.
What is false exactly? Everything.
M855 Ammunition, what is it?
The M855 round is a 5.56x45mm NATO standard bullet developed for use in the field as a means for better penetration. There was concern that the standard 55-grain projectile in 5.56 was not providing enough penetration at range in various combat settings. The M855 was developed to provide better penetration by increasing the weight to 62 grains and putting a steel core penetrator in the nose of the bullet. Over the past 30 years this bullet has been sold to the public as military surplus and as a result is a cheap way to target shoot. In reality, the bullet is less lethal then widely available commercial ammunition, which is designed for hunting and is popular due to its surplus status.
But its Amour Piercing, Right?
The M855 is NOT an amour-piercing projectile. The claim by this administration that the M855 round is amour piercing is false in every way. For starters, police commonly wear soft body armor. Soft body armor is rated for pistol calibers only, and does not include rifle ammunition. This means that ALL rifle calibers, including every commercially available rifle round at your typical department store is capable of defeating soft body amour. Based on this premises alone, the claim that this ban would “protect police” is inherently false on its face and rooted not in fact, but in ignorance and fantasy.
The M855 round by the BATF’s own definition does not qualify as an “armor piercing” round. They are, in fact, ignoring their own definition of what constitutes such a round in their attempt to arbitrarily ban this common ammunition. The BATF defines armor piercing as the following:
“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.” A second definition, added in the 1990s, includes “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.”
In no way does the M855 round meet this definition. The projectile is not made entirely of steel or tungsten, and is based on a lead core build. The 5.56 round also cannot be loaded in any commercially available “hand gun.” The claim currently used for “hand gun” is not what most people would assume, such as a pistol. It’s referring to what is known as an AR pistol. It’s in fact nothing more than an AR-15 rifle without a shoulder stock. This has turned into a game of semantics, and they are trying to use this as a loophole to ban M855 ammunition. If you fire the round from a rifle without a butt stock, they now classify this as a “hand gun” and this is where the games begin. The only problem is that the bullet still does not fit the definition of an “armor piercing” bullet. Also, as far as performance goes, there is nothing differentiating m855 from any other rifle round when speaking about soft body armor.
What is the Threat to Law Enforcement?
In reality, any firearm is a threat to law enforcement; however, the most widely used firearms in crime are hand guns, which police are equipped to confront. Rifles always have been a concern and will continue to be, however, they are far less common of an encountered threat. The M855 round has never been documented and linked in any incident where a law enforcement officer has been killed, and does not provide any advantage over any other common and commercially available bullet on your typical store shelf.
BATF Already Publishes M855 as “banned” in New regulations
The BATF published the new and revised addition of their regulations in January of 2015. M855 was always exempt from being listed as “armor piercing.” However, the new regulations published have stripped the M855 from this exemption. This is troubling considering this was a proposed ban and has not gone through the proper channels yet. This is very aggressive on the part of this administration as well as presumptuous as to how this will come to play out.
The fact of the matter is simple. The M855 round in no way meets their own definition of what an “armor piercing” round is, is not an increased threat to law enforcement, has been used legally for 30 years with no major incident to speak of, and is no more dangerous than your standard rifle cartridge. The attempt by this administration to ban the most popular and commonly available bullet for the AR-15 rifle is nothing more than a back door approach to make shooting this rifle prohibitively expensive. Failed attempts years earlier to ban AR-15 rifle can only bring one to conclude that this is a continuation of a war on America’s “evil” black rifle.
Nick is a former Arizona police officer and deputy. He is a Kaplan University Counter Terrorism and Homeland Security graduate, graduating with highest honors. Nick is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, The National Society of Collegiate Scholars, the Golden Key International Honor Society, Alpha Betta Kappa Honor Society, and Alpha Phi Sigma Criminal Justice Honor Society. He has appeared as an expert commentator on Fox News Radio, and has been published in academic journals as well as Police One. Nick Can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Dialn0911
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