Nearly 30 years ago, President Reagan signed into law a gun-safety measure intended to restrict “cop killer” bullets. As we discussed yesterday, however, some ammunition, including armor-piercing “green tip” bullets, was exempted because they were “primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes.”
The argument at the time was pretty straightforward: these bullets couldn’t be used in handguns, so there was no point in keeping them out of the hands of hunters.
But over the course of three decades, firearm technology has improved and there are now handguns that can fire these bullets. The Obama administration’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives recently announced that it would revisit the 1986 exemption in order to adapt to the new advances and improve public safety, most notably for law-enforcement officials.
At least, that was the plan. As Todd Frankel reported, federal officials threw in the towel yesterday in the face of overwhelming public pushback.
The agency pulled the plug early, with still a week to go before the end of a one-month informal comment period on the proposed rule change that would have targeted these armor-piercing bullets. The ATF noted it had received more than 80,000 comments, and “the vast majority of the comments received to date are critical of the framework, and included issues that deserve further study.”Criticism by gun-rights groups has been withering, accusing the agency of a “back-door” attempt at gun control with the proposal it announced Feb. 16.
The campaign to keep the armor-piercing bullets on gun-store shelves was bolstered by 236 members of the U.S. House and 52 U.S. senators, who collectively urged ATF not to restrict access to the ammunition.
Gun-safety groups and their allies on Capitol Hill weren’t nearly as organized, and as the results help demonstrate, it was a one-sided fight.
Remember, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest made the case for the policy at a briefing last week:
“[W]e 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. 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.“So I’d put this in the category of common-sense steps that the government can take to protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans while also making sure that our law enforcement officers who are walking the beat every day can do their jobs just a little bit more safely.”
This, evidently, did not prove persuasive.
Frankel’s report concluded that ATF officials have “decided to go back to the drawing board.”