The Obama Administration’s AR-15 Ammo Ban: What’s It All About?

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has unveiled a new “Framework For Determining Whether Certain Projectiles Are ‘Primarily Intended For Sporting Purposes.’” Under that rather bland rubric, ATF says that it will prohibit the sale of ammunition using the M855 bullet, which includes some of the most common types of ammunition used in AR-15 rifles.

This gets rather technical, but briefly, what we are talking about here is the projectile, or bullet. The M855 bullet has a lead core and a steel tip. It is commonly used in 5.56 and .223 cartridges. ATF proposes to ban the M855 as an armor-piercing projectile under the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act of 1986 and the Gun Control Act of 1968. These laws generally prohibit the sale of armor-piercing ammunition in order to protect law enforcement personnel who wear bullet-proof vests.

Under the statutes, whether a bullet is armor-piercing depends on its materials. A bullet made entirely from steel or certain other materials is considered armor-piercing. However, the NRA argues:

[The M855] does not, however, have a core made of the metals listed in the law; rather, it has a traditional lead core with a steel tip, and therefore should never have been considered “armor piercing.”

Nevertheless, ATF classified the M855 projectile as armor piercing some time ago. Until now, it has been legal because the 5.56 and .223 cartridges in which the M855 is used have been exclusively rifle ammunition, and the definition of armor piercing ammunition includes the requirement that it “may be used in a handgun.” What has changed, according to ATF, is that 5.56 and .223 cartridges that include the M855 steel-tipped bullet can now be used in AR-15-style handguns:

As a result of the availability of these handguns, however, some conventional rifle ammunition now falls within the statutory definition and is properly classified as “armor piercing ammunition,” despite the fact that the ammunition itself has not changed.

Does ATF’s action make sense? Not really. The point of the statutes at issue is to protect law enforcement personnel against armor-piercing bullets fired from concealable handguns. ATF recognizes this purpose:

However, that analysis also necessarily implicates the officer safety concern LEOPA was designed to address—ammunition containing armor-defeating metals that may be fired from relatively small, concealable firearms.

AR-15-style pistols are not small or concealable. This, for example, is SIG Sauer’s P516 pistol. It is 23″ long:


No one is going to take a police officer by surprise with a 23″ long weapon. The Washington Examiner quotes a former officer:

“Criminals aren’t going to go out and buy a $1,000 AR pistol,” Brent Ball, owner of 417 Guns in Springfield, Mo. and a 17-year veteran police told the Springfield News-Leader. “As a police officer I’m not worried about AR pistols because you can see them. It’s the small gun in a guy’s hand you can’t see that kills you.”

Moreover, a knowledgeable reader who works in the firearms industry points out that the “armor piercing” quality of a steel-tipped bullet is really irrelevant. Essentially all rifle ammunition will pierce the vests worn by police officers:

The ban is silly for a lot of reasons. It has been claimed that the ban will protect police officers from this armor piercing ammunition, but in truth ANY ordinary ammunition in .223 / 5.56 caliber will defeat virtually all bullet proof vests worn by police officers, regardless if the bullet is armor piercing or not. This is the nature of center fire rifle ammunition, and its very high velocity relative to pistol ammunition, not to mention long skinny bullets relative to short fat pistol bullets.

Critics of the ban suggest that the Obama administration is trying to achieve a ban on AR-15 rifles through the back door. This ATF standard won’t achieve that result by itself, of course, as most AR-15 ammunition will remain legal. But the fear is not irrational; liberals have openly argued for attacks on ammunition as an indirect means of achieving gun control.

Comments on ATF’s proposed new rule remain open until March 16. In the meantime, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte has written to object to the M855 ban; his letter is here. It says, in part:

The effects of these restrictive interpretations are untenable. For example, since 1986 ATF has considered the M855 5.56 x 45mm cartridge to be “exempt” under the sporting purposes test (although its core contains a substantial amount of lead, raising questions about its classification as “armor piercing” in the first place). ATF has now rescinded that exemption because repeating handguns that fire the M855 round are commercially available. Yet this round is amongst the most commonly used in the most popular rifle design in America, the AR-15. Millions upon millions of M855 rounds have been sold and used in the U.S., yet ATF has not even alleged – much less offered evidence – that even one such round has ever been fired from a handgun at a police officer. The idea that Congress intended LEOPA to ban one of the preeminent rifle cartridges in use by Americans for legitimate purposes is preposterous.

While the banning of these popular cartridges is the most visible and immediate effect of ATF’s shifting policy, the “Framework” has other serious implications. It will, for example, inhibit the development and use of rifle ammunition containing non-lead materials, even as efforts are afoot both at the federal and state levels to impose bans or restrictions on lead ammunition. The eventual collision of these trends could result in drastically reduced options for lawful ammunition users.

Which, one suspects, is what the Obama administration has in mind.

More Blowback

The American Meteorological Society, regarded as a mainstream science organization, has issued a strong statement critical of Rep. Grijalva’s “investigation,” whose central point is the same as mine yesterday.  You can find a PDF link at the top of the AMS website, but here’s the complete text of the letter (with a facsimilie below):

Dear Representative Grijalva:

Science and jurisprudence have in common the practice of the careful and critical evaluation of ideas, facts, assertions, and conclusions. The remarkable and time tested results apparent to all rely on guidelines for the practice of research, of argument, of evidence, and of integrity that are clear and clearly honored. It is in this spirit that the American Meteorological Society (AMS) is strongly committed to academic freedom, open scientific debate, and free expression of scientific ideas (see, for example, the AMS Statement on Freedom of Scientific Expression: The AMS is also deeply committed to transparency in science, the free availability of scientific data and academic research products, and full disclosure of funding sources and potential conflicts of interest (see, for example, the obligations of authors wishing to publish their results in AMS scientific journals:

Despite its commitment to transparency and full disclosure within the scientific process, the AMS is concerned by the “Letters to Seven Universities Asking for Documents on Climate Change Research” ( change-research) posted on the Committee website on 24 February. Publicly singling out specific researchers based on perspectives they have expressed and implying a failure to appropriately disclose funding sources — and thereby questioning their scientific integrity — sends a chilling message to all academic researchers. Further, requesting copies of the researcher’s communications related to external funding opportunities or the preparation of testimony impinges on the free pursuit of ideas that is central to the concept of academic freedom.

The AMS maintains that peer-review is the appropriate mechanism to assess the validity and quality of scientific research, regardless of the funding sources supporting that research as long as those funding sources and any potential conflicts of interest are fully disclosed. The scientific process that includes testing and validation of concepts and ideas — discarding those that cannot successfully withstand such testing — is chronicled in the peer- reviewed scientific literature. We encourage the Committee to rely on the full corpus of peer-reviewed literature on climate science as the most reliable source for knowledge and understanding that can be applied to the policy options before you.


Dr. Keith L. Seitter

AMS Executive Director

Incidentally, the climatistas’ real complaint about Roger Pielke Jr. is precisely that he uses the peer reviewed literature in ways they don’t like.

AMS Letter copy

Blowback Against Democrats’ McCarthyite Investigation Continues

We have written here, here and here about House Democrats’ purported investigation of seven climate realists. Steven Hayward is proud to be one of the Magnificent Seven, and I interviewed him on the Laura Ingraham show this morning about the investigation. Pushback against the Democrats’ witch hunt is taking place on a variety of fronts.

Yesterday a reporter from Politico, Alex Guillen, contacted Scott and me via email. Guillen said that he was working on a story about reaction to the Democrats’ investigation. He questioned whether our condemnation of the Democrats’ letters to seven academic institutions was inconsistent with my endorsement of a CID served by Ken Cuccinelli, who was then the Attorney General of Virginia, in May 2010.

I answered Guillen’s question. To Politico’s credit, while they did accuse us of inconsistency (“But Power Line had a different take on Cuccinelli’s climate probe five years ago…”), they also included my response:

Much like Markey’s spokesman, Hinderaker said Thursday that the Cuccinelli and Grijalva probes are “completely different.”

“The Cuccinelli [document demand] related to the substance of work done by Michael Mann,” Hinderaker wrote in an email to POLITICO. He added: “The Grijalva ‘investigation’ is merely an attempt to smear scientists and others by claiming that they received funding from various private sources; it does not relate to the substance of anything they have written … As you know if you have read my posts, I believe that it is government money, not private money, that is corrupt, because government is the main party in interest in the global warming controversy.”

This last point is the important one: governments, ours and many others, pay billions of dollars every year to climate scientists who come up with alarmist predictions. Why? Because the main point of global warming alarmism is to frighten voters in the U.S. and other Western countries into turning over more power to government. This is why no one makes any serious effort to address emissions from China and India, which together dwarf ours; moreover, theirs are increasing rapidly while ours are diminishing. It’s not about the climate, on which CO2 has, in any event, little influence. It is about government control over the economy.

But I asked one question that the Politico reporter declined to answer: do you really read Power Line so carefully that you recalled a post from nearly five years ago, or did someone feed you the Cuccinelli bit? Crickets. My guess is that it was Kert Davies, former research director for Greenpeace. But, in any event, I am confident that Politico was doing the bidding of some left-wing environmental activist when it accused us and others of inconsistency with regard to the Cuccinelli CID.

STEVE adds: I’m still just starting to lace up my boxing gloves on this one.  But right now I’m lacing up my ski gloves, because I decided to go skiing today at an undisclosed location (I did once have lunch with Dick Cheney not from from here many years ago) before global warming melts all the snow!  Actually not much risk of that today: high temp might make it to 10 degrees F, with another big storm on the way.  But never fear, Week in Pictures, #FreeTheGrijalva7! Edition is on the way.

From the mixed-up files of Ms. Hillary

Although it has had to file a Freedom of Information Act to get it done, Judicial Watch has succeeded in extracting a portion of Benghazi-related emails from the State Department. Judicial Watch had sought “Any and all records concerning, regarding, or related to notes, updates, or reports created in response to the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S, Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. This request includes but is not limited to, notes, taken by then Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton or employees of the Office of the Secretary of State during the attack and its immediate aftermath.” The focus is accordingly on the Office of the Secretary of State.

Judicial Watch has posted its own account of the email messages turned over by the State Department. It has also posted the State Department’s response to the FOIA request here. Judicial Watch observes: “The documents make no reference to a spontaneous demonstration or Internet video, except in an official statement issued by Hillary Clinton.”

Andrew McCarthy also provides a tour through the email traffic in the NR/Corner post “Hillary Clinton’s top aides knew from first minutes that Benghazi was a terrorist attack, emails show.” Here is Andy’s opening paragraph:

From the very first moments of the terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her top aides were advised that the compound was under a terrorist attack. In fact, less than two hours into the attack, they were told that the al-Qaeda affiliate in Libya, Ansar al-Sharia, had claimed responsibility.

There is more than one reason why Ms. Hillary has sought to stigmatize interest in the nature of the Benghazi attack as a morbid curiosity, but you’d have to be a fool to buy any of them.

Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll titles this one LET ME GIVE YOU SOME ADVICE…She writes:

I don’t care if you are a sane person who understands that there are two, and only two, “genders,” or more accurately, “sexes” (M & F), or if you are convinced that there are dozens of genders or none at all. It is – more or less – a free country except on college campuses, and you can believe what you want.

But if you are looking for advice on any particular topic, let me give you the benefit of some wisdom gleaned from my many decades upon this wacky planet.

If you want short, practical solutions to a problem at hand, ask a man.

If you want to just vent, or be listened to without even coming close to solving the problem, consult with a woman. In fact, there is substantial research claiming that that is precisely what women want when they ask a man about, say, a vexing issue at work. They just want him to listen; they do not want him to “solve” it. Further, it will even make the woman angry at the man if he tries to solve it. Talk about sandbagging someone!

So a woman (let’s call her Gwynivere, since I’ve never known anyone by that name), will complain to her girlfriend, Lucille, that Judy at work is sabotaging her, taking credit for her work, and possibly even using her coffee cup in the break room.

Lucille will make good eye contact, listen intently and pat her hand and together they will discuss all the times they have been upset by coworkers. There may be tears; there may be hugs; there will almost certainly be chocolate, possibly cocoa or herbal tea, and the ladies will feel much better.

Later that evening, Gwynivere might mention to her husband, Ralph, for the four- or six-hundredth time that she does not like Judy at work who is sabotaging her, taking credit for her work, and Ralph will sigh, look up for a nanosecond from online poker or ESPN and say, “As I see it, you can either confront Judy, or document your complaints and go to a manager, or you can quit.”

There. Several different paths, each with different consequences. But, of course, Gwyn did not want ideas that would force her to act. She wanted sympathy. Ralph has made that mistake once again (doh!) and is mystified by her frosty reaction to his suggestions for certain activities later in the evening.

Obviously, there are exceptions to the general gender breakdown on this. No Mars-Venus paradigm is perfect. My women friends tend to be engineers, veterinarians, I.T. People, lawyers, data-driven, gun-totin’ broads. While I love far-ranging conversation with all types of ladies, even the more touchy-feely among us, I do not enjoy beating any horse, but particularly a dead horse. Is that, by the way, not a thoroughly repulsive metaphor? I prize logic; love quick, practical solutions, and moving on in a sprightly manner.

And so, when my friend Angela (an engineer), who is a spectacular person though not a cook, asked me how long tuna salad would keep, I told her for sure 4 or 5 days with proper refrigeration. Now, as it happened, The Paranoid Texan was also on the patio when this conversation took place and he said, “Tuna salad will keep until it is gone.” No slave to variety, the Paranoid Texan will fix a giant vat of tuna salad which includes hard-boiled eggs, and there’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner for many days. Many.

This segued – as it naturally would while drinking – into a discussion of the proper way to fold contour (fitted) sheets. I said there was actually a Utube video of the proper way to fold a contour sheet and that long before Utube, my mother had attempted to show me how dozens of times to no avail. I further asserted that, unless the NSA is going to include linen closet inspection along with their electronic snooping (it’s just a matter of time…), that just balling the damn thing up and stuffing it into the closet is good enough for me.

Once again, The Paranoid Texan offered the male viewpoint: “What folding? You take it out of the dryer and put it back on the bed.” I said, “But I have several sets of sheets and I like to rotate them.” And the PT, who is every bit as sensitive as he is paranoid said, “That’s just stupid. You use one set till they wear out and get another set on Amazon.”

It’s hard to argue with logic like that even when sober. When Mr. Ammo Grrrll came out on the patio to bring out more bourbon, I informed him of the New Sheet Plan going forward and he said, “We have more than one set of sheets?”

Punch Back Twice as Hard

Our pals at the Energy and Environment Legal Institute issued the following press release today, which I post here in full:

For Immediate Release:
February 26, 2015

Craig Richardson

Following Rep. Grijalva Inspiration, E&E Legal Files FOIA Request with the University of Delaware Seeking Records Relating to the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal), in conjunction with the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic (FMELC) and the Caesar Rodney Institute (CRI), filed a Delaware Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) with the University of Delaware related to Dr. John Byrne, Director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy and Distinguished Professor of Energy and Climate Policy.

Specifically, the FOIA request seeks documents describing the University of Delaware’s policy or policies relating to disclosure applying to Dr. Byrne; records in the University’s possession relating to outside funding, grants, or other contributions made to support Dr. John Byrne’s work at or relating to the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy; records involving Dr. Byrne’s outside funding, including consulting fees, promotional considerations, speaking fees, honoraria, travel expenses, salary and other compensation or monies given to Dr. Byrne which did not originate with the University itself; financial disclosure forms in which Dr. Byrne lists the University of Delaware or the State of Delaware as his affiliation; and records reflecting Dr. Byrne’s total annual compensation for each year at the University of Delaware.

Those who have followed recent news reports may notice that this FOIA request was inspired by and even replicated the request that U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) made to seven universities, including Delaware. In his letters, Congressman Grijalva notes that the “disclosure of a few key pieces of information will establish the impartiality of climate research and policy recommendations published in your institute’s name…[C]onflicts should be clear to stakeholders, including policymakers who use scientific information to make decisions.” Although the University responding to Rep. Grijalva is discretionary, processing FOIA requests from Delaware citizens is not.

“We certainly appreciate Congressman Grijalva’s rhetoric about the importance of disclosure and transparency,” said Chris Horner, E&E Legal Senior Legal Fellow and the attorney who filed the FOIA request on behalf of the three organizations. “His insistence that the Constitution compels him to demand these records — citing to no authority for why the universities should provide them — so moved us that we followed in his footsteps, if in our case by proceeding under Delaware law.”

It is possible that Representative Grijalva assumes that congressional letterhead carries authority to insist such demands be satisfied. Regardless, E&E Legal, FME Law and CRI appreciate the Congressman’s enthusiasm that the University dedicate itself to producing such records.

The groups far more narrowly tailor the period of time covered by their request, otherwise modeled after Rep. Grijalva’s nearly verbatim (also changing of course the party whose records are involved, which we are confident is not material to whether records should be released). The requesters look forward to the University of Delaware taking to heart Rep. Grijalva’s embrace of transparency, and satisfying this request made pursuant to Delaware’s statute which implements the legislature’s determination that, for institutions including the University, “it is vital that citizens have easy access to public records in order that the society remain free and democratic”. FOIA § 10001.

“We have followed Rep. Grijalva’s footsteps for our request, if under actual statutory making our request, unlike the Congressman’s, not discretionary. UDel has provided records in the past to Greenpeace, and we are confident that the State of Delaware will comply with this request,” concludes Horner.

Heh.  By the way, learning some fun things about Rep. Grijalva, and his lead “investigator” for this witch hunt, Vic Edgerton, who turns out to be a former Green Party candidate for local office in Connecticut, because, he said at the time, he needed to shine a light on issues Democrats ignore.  Edgerton also previously worked for Keith Ellison, and Dennis Kucinich.  He clearly knows how to pick leading statesmen.

Stay tuned.  More to come.

Murdered By a Dreamer: Do Black Lives Matter?

Jamiel Shaw, Jr. was murdered by an illegal alien–a “dreamer”–the day after the dreamer was released from jail after a trivially short sentence for assault with a deadly weapon, and left to roam the streets rather than being deported. There have been many such stories; Jamiel Shaw’s story only came to light because his father, Jamiel Shaw, Sr., was called to testify before an Oversight Subcommittee hearing. His heartbreaking testimony illustrates the human cost of our government’s failure to enforce the immigration laws: