“Shotgun” Joe Biden is once again sounding off on the gun issue, this time setting his sights on “armor-piercing” rounds.
In a recent interview with CBS News, Biden spoke about the need to ban “armor-piercing” rounds in the wake of the shootings in Dallas that left five police officers dead.
“We’ve been trying to do that for a long time,” Biden said. “The first bill introduced to stop armor-piercing bullets was introduced by Pat Moynihan and me years ago. And so what we get is the constant, constant push back from the gun lobby and the Republican Congress.”
Maybe Biden doesn’t realize this, but the Federal government already bans “armor-piercing” rounds with few exceptions. Under current law, the ATF defines “armor-piercing” ammo by the following criteria:
Armor piercing ammunition
- 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; or
- 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.
The term “armor piercing ammunition” does not include shotgun shot required by Federal or State environmental or game regulations for hunting purposes, a frangible projectile designed for target shooting, a projectile which the Attorney General finds is primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes, or any other projectile or projectile core which the Attorney General finds is intended to be used for industrial purposes, including a charge used in an oil and gas well perforating device.
The key exemption is the “primarily intended for sporting purposes” clause. You’ll recall that not too long ago, in the Spring of 2015, the ATF actually attempted to “reclassify” — or as the gun community correclty called it, “ban” — M855 rounds, also known as “green tip” ammo, so that it would no longer fall under that exemption.
But after receiving over 80,000 critical comments from concerned gun owners on the proposal to ban the popular green tips, the ATF backed down.
“Although ATF endeavored to create a proposal that reflected a good faith interpretation of the law and balanced the interests of law enforcement, industry, and sportsmen, the vast majority of the comments received to date are critical of the framework, and include issues that deserve further study,” said the agency in a statement.
“Accordingly, ATF will not at this time seek to issue a final framework,” the statement continued.
What was particularly concerning about the assault on green tips was that it was coming from a federal agency and not the Legislative Branch. As we all know, Congress is charged with drafting new laws — not the ATF. But this type of rogue law-making — circumventing the House and Senate — is something that vice president Biden endorses.
“There is a debate as to whether or not there is authority in an executive action. I think we have the authority,” said Biden. “And there is a concern that if in fact we go ahead and do it, what the response will be from the United States Congress in a way that may be able to override a veto.”
In other words, Biden believes that Obama has the power via executive to expand the existing ban on “armor-piercing” rounds to cover all sorts of steel core ammo in common use. Biden also said in the interview that the “armor-piercing” rounds have “zero” sporting application.
At this point it’s not clear whether the Obama administration will pursue an expanded ban on “armor-piercing” rounds. However, if Obama decides to go down that road one can pretty much guranatee that the GOP-controlled Congress will vociferously weigh in on the matter and ultimately prevent it from taking effect. At least one would hope.