I’ll preface this with the disclaimer that if Brad were running this blog, you wouldn’t see this story. He’s not a gun person (and chances are that you aren’t either) so this story wouldn’t really even be on his radar. However, Brad’s not home. So I’m going to talk about the ATF’s illegal ban on M855 ammo. But let’s start at the beginning. What is M855 ammo, you ask?
M855 ammunition is a 5.56 x 45mm cartridge, which is the round originally chambered in the M-16, and the civilian variant – the ubiquitous AR-15.
When the M-16 was originally designed, the 5.56 ammo for it was all-lead, or what is commonly referred to as “ball” ammunition. After the Vietnam war, soldiers reported some issues with the all-lead design, and wanted a round that would have more energy at longer ranges. Essentially, they wanted a heavier round.
In response, the M855 round was developed. The difference in the M855 round is that it has a steel-core, just at the tip. The steel doesn’t deform as much as the lead, so there’s better accuracy over long distances, and better stability when the round hits clothing or glass. Now, this cartridge isn’t designed to be “armor piercing”. It’s just a more effective rifle round at range than an all-lead round.
Nowadays, the US Army has since moved on to a newer round, but there’s a ton of surplus M855 ammo that is popular with target shooters because it’s accurate over long distances compared to “ball” ammo…and it’s relatively cheap because it’s military surplus.
So, along comes the ATF and now they say that because this round has “armor piercing” capability, it can be banned under the existing law. The New York Times, loves the idea. Except, get this, the New York Times doesn’t know anything at all about the M855 round. They just know that they don’t like guns or the things that go inside guns. And they really don’t like the scary looking guns.
The fact is, almost all rifle cartridges can pierce standard body armor. Even the original all-lead 5.56x45mm cartridge easily penetrates standard body armor. That’s because standard body armor isn’t intended to stop shots from rifles – it’s intended to handgun rounds, which are comparatively lower powered. To take the ATF’s reasoning to it’s logical conclusion, you’d have to ban most center-fire rifle ammo. The ATF knows this, but it’s doing it anyway, using the helpful idiots at the New York Times to promote this myth of police officers needing this ban for safety. There’s only one factual little problem with this reason: the Fraternal Order of Police says that an M855 cartridge ban is not necessary to protect police officers.
To say that the M855 round should be banned because it’s “armor piercing” is dumb, because almost all the other rifle rounds out there, available at every Wal-Mart are also “armor piercing” under this silly definition. Banning M855 ammo would do next to nothing to lower crime rates or police fatalities, because it’s hardly ever used in crimes.
But hey, actual facts don’t matter to gun control advocates, the ATF or this White House. They want to use every excuse possible to get what they want, and when they got stopped with the legislative path, they just decided to use administrative action to accomplish their policy objectives – and stretching beyond the bounds of the law to do it.
See, I told you Brad wouldn’t have posted this.