This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, March 23, 2015:
According to the slick, sophisticated, progressive Salon magazine, the oldest cliché in journalism is Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity. And there’s no proof that Einstein ever said any such thing! But if he had, it would certainly apply to Reps. Steve Israel and Eliot Engel.
Just days after the ATF came to its senses and decided that its proposed ban on “green tip” 5.56 M855 rifle ammunition was just a bridge too far, Israel unleashed a vitriolic barrage at the ATF, calling the decision “cowardly,” “reckless,” and a “cave-in” to the gun lobby. In his attack he dredged up old and long-discredited terms like “cop-killer” bullets and “armor-piercing” ammunition to round out his attack.
Facts don’t matter to Israel. In 38 years the FBI has not uncovered a single instance where a M855 round was used to wound, much less kill, a police officer. The ATF backed away from defining rifle ammunition on the basis of its “performance” when it learned that every center-fire round made and available in the US would defeat the minimal protective armor. This, the ATF knew, would raise such ire against the already discredited and sullied ATF that any proposal to ban all center-fire ammo wouldn’t get to first base.
Instead, the ATF decided to define “armor-piercing” ammunition based upon what it was made of, not what it might do. This way, if the ban was approved, it would set the stage for banning all ammo made of the same materials: steel, bronze, brass and molybdenum.
It’s a game that the ATF cannot win, but Israel doesn’t seem to care. He is presenting a bill, the “Modernize Law Enforcement Protection Act,” that would change the definition back to banning “all bullets that pierce body armor” in rifles and handguns.
In his announcement Israel stepped off the planet when he complained that the latest technology makes all previous law either irrelevant or in desperate need of serious revision:
Because of significant developments in bullet propellants, coatings, and materials, such as Teflon (emphasis added), the original Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act of 1986 is now outdated.
This was just too much for the NRA, which has battling the likes of Israel for years in the gun wars:
Seriously, Teflon? The substance used to coat skillets and 1970s-era all-steel handgun bullets invented for law enforcement officers, so the bullets wouldn’t scratch the rifling of the officers’ handgun barrels?
Teflon, which has nothing to do with whether a bullet can penetrate a protective vest?
So out of touch is Israel with reality that he even announced his intention to write a letter to the ATF’s director, Todd Jones, signed by as many of his colleagues as he could find, demanding that the ATF immediately reverse its decision and ban all offensive ammunition immediately. The only problem is that the same day the Israel unleashed his assault on the ATF, Director Jones announced his retirement, effective the end of the month.
Another New York Democrat, Rep. Eliot Engel, decided to take the frontal approach and offer legislation to ban the ammunition directly, without involving the ATF. Of course, Congress failed to pass a ban on so-called assault rifles when Obama had majorities in both the House and Senate, so it remains unclear how Engel expects his bill even to see the light of day in the present House. As the NRA noted, Engel “is not listening to the American people who have time and again resisted these unconstitutional bans.”
There is at least one member of the House who appears to have a fully functional grasp of reality, Rep. Patrick McHenry (who is neither a Democrat nor from New York). He is offering a bill to “clarify” exactly what the House meant when it wrote the legislation which the ATF is misreading. It would reaffirm Congress’ intent to keep the ATF from banning common-use rifle ammunition, specifically the 5.56 M855 round.
How Israel and Engel could miss the message delivered last week so overwhelmingly and persuasively by more than 300,000 citizens and majorities in both houses is difficult to understand. The NRA, along with the Second Amendment Foundation, Gun Owners of America, National Association of Gun Rights, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, and others, rang a bell heard across the land. If the general rule applies, that every public comment represents the opinions of 99 others who agree, that amounts to more than 30 million people who think the ATF has stepped out of line.
What about Israel and Engel? If political insanity can be defined as a complete lack of awareness of the real world, and continuing to operate in an alternate universe instead, then Einstein is right: these guys are insane.
They need to be removed from office at the earliest possible moment and sent off to some place with rooms that have soft walls, music that is low and soothing, and locks on the doors so that they can never again get out and hurt themselves or others.