This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, February 16, 2015:

A collection of 5.56mm caliber ammunition. Ima...

A collection of 5.56mm caliber ammunition.

All the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (commonly called the ATF) needed was an excuse. With President Obama’s promise that he would, during the remaining two years of his second term, continue his efforts to transform America, and the growing popularity of handguns chambered for the 5.56mm “green tip” NATO ball ammunition, the ATF had two. Although the ATF has been working on banning this inexpensive and consequently very popular round for more than two years, the agency’s announcement on Thursday coincided nicely with Obama’s speech at a Democrat fundraiser in San Francisco the very next day.

Said Obama:

Two years is a long time. And two years is also the time in which we’re going to be setting the stage for the next presidential election and the next 10 years of American policy.


And so I intend to run through the tape and work really hard, and squeeze every last little bit of change and improvement in the lives of ordinary Americans and middle-class families that I can.

The ATF was only too happy to get in line. It published its “framework” for the ban the day before Obama’s speech, outlining in mind-numbingly convoluted, logic-defying just why the ban is necessary.

When the Act of 1968 was passed, it defined armor-piercing ammunition as cartridges that were made of certain materials but said nothing about their armor-piercing potential. When the Gun Control Act of 1986 was passed, it defined armor-piercing ammunition as

A projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely … 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.

Once again, nothing was said in the about whether such projectiles could pierce body armor worn by law enforcement officers. What it did do, however, is keep the ATF from banning such ammunition from use in rifles. The growing popularity and consequent lowering of the cost of shooting these rounds caused no end of anxiety at the ATF, but their hands were tied.

Enter pistols, like Sig Sauer’s P556 Pistol, which are chambered for the 5.56 mm round. Sig’s website proclaims that its

P556® Pistol features a 10” button rifled barrel, chambered in 5.56mm NATO, with a twist rate of 1 in 7.” The flash suppressor uses a standard .5 x 28 TPI thread pattern, ensuring compatibility with after-market accessories. The optional flip up front combat sight is adjustable for windage, rear for elevation.


The receiver is made of high strength steel with a durable wear-resistant Nitron® finish. The Picatinny rail features a SIG SAUER® Mini Red Dot sight that works in concert with the optional front combat sight. The trigger housing is machined from an aircraft grade aluminum alloy forging with a hard-coat anodized finish designed to survive extreme conditions.


The pistol comes equipped with a smooth two-stage trigger, ambidextrous safety and is designed to accept standard AR magazines.

This was just too much temptation for the ATF to resist. On Thursday it announced that in order

to protect the lives and safety of enforcement officers from the threat posed by ammunition capable of penetrating a protective vest, fired from a handgun, the Act of 1968 … prohibits the import, manufacture and distribution of “armor piercing ammunition” as defined by [that] statute. (emphasis added)

Until Thursday, the ATF specifically exempted the now disfavored rounds from such restrictions because they were used mostly for “sporting purposes” – however that might be defined – but since they might now be used in a handgun that might be used in an attack on law enforcement officials sometime in the future, they must be banned now:

ATF must withdraw the exemptions for 5.56 mm “green tip” ammunition, including both the SS109 and M855 cartridges….


Manufacturers will be unable to produce such armor-piercing ammunition, importers will be unable to import such ammunition, and manufacturers and importers will be prohibited from selling or distributing the ammunition.

The errors in logic and flaws in its reasoning are staggering, but ideology comes first at the ATF. First, the green “steel penetrator tip” was designed years ago to lend stability to the round over long ranges and consequently achieve better accuracy. Secondly, similar rounds without the offending materials can defeat body armor, not because of how it’s made, but due to its 3,100 fps muzzle velocity. Why even a ham sandwich at that velocity would defeat it!

Thirdly armor-piercing ammunition has never been a significant factor in crime, with so-called assault weapons (regardless of the ammunition used) accounting for less than two percent of all used in crimes committed in the United States.

On its face, then, the “framework” touted by the ATF on Thursday collapses of its own weight. But in the war against the Second Amendment facts like these don’t matter. Bob Owens, writing at Bearing Arms, saw through the sham and the fraud of the ATF:

It is our opinion here at Bearing Arms that the explicit and implicit purpose of the Second Amendment is to ensure that the citizenry be armed with weapons and ammunition of contemporary utility.


We hold that a ban on the most common forms of ammunition for the most common contemporary rifles for militia service is a gross and blatant violation of the letter and the spirit of the Second Amendment.

With no accountability, Obama is ramping up his efforts to change the US into a totalitarian socialist state where no one but the government, the police, and the have access to arms and ammunition. Similar efforts may be expected in the future unless Congress grows a backbone and demands, simply, that the ATF’s previous exemption of such ammunition from its rules be made permanent.

It’s one more reminder, if one be needed, that the battle for freedom never ends.



National Rifle Association: BATFE To Ban Common AR-15 Ammo

Washington Times: Obama vows to ‘squeeze every last little bit of change’ out of final two years

Bearing Arms: GOODBYE GREENTIP? ATF Seeks To Ban Common SS109/M855 5.56 Ammunition

Bearing Arms: 5.45×39 Steel Core Ammunition Importation “Ban”

AmmoLand: ATF Bans More Ammo

The Truth About Guns: ATF Moves to Ban M855 And SS109 5.56 Ammunition

BATFE “framework” announcing change

Firearms Coalition: Gun Owners of America’s latest on ATF abuses against the Firearms Industry

It’s Tactical: Military Ammunition and Why Green Tip M855 is Not Armor Piercing

Background on M855 ball ammo

The Gun Zone: About the Mousegun Round

History behind the Gun Control Act of 1968

History behind the Gun Control Act of 1986

Sig Sauer’s     P556 pistol

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