Freedomnomics

Article published Tuesday, March 10, 2015, at Fox News.

Rare Victory: Obama administration temporarily drops ammo ban proposal

By John R. Lott, Jr.

If President Obama can’t have his way with banning guns, it looks like his next option is to ban the bullets used by those guns. Too often, Obama has shown little regard for the law. He does what he wants. If you want him to actually follow the law, you will have to take him to court.

The Obama administration had proposed a ban on one of the most popular and inexpensive bullets for America’s most popular rifle. A majority of both the House and Senate have spoken out against the ban. But Tuesday the Obama administration at least temporarily backed off on unilaterally rewriting the laws concerning what bullets can and cannot be sold.

Embarrassingly for Obama it appeared that his administration had jumped the gun on banning the bullets. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATF) latest "Firearms Regulation Reference Guide," released in January 2015 dropped the 1986 ruling that found the popular ".223 M855 'green tip' ammunition" meet legal requirements. The change made it appear as if the decision was made before the Obama administration even asked for public comments.

The BATF claims the change was merely an accident, but no explanation has been offered for why just this one paragraph in almost 250 pages of regulations was missing.

To protect against “armor piercing ammunition,” federal law prohibits handgun bullets that are "constructed entirely . . . from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper or depleted uranium.”

The steel bullet tips that Obama wants to ban account for only 15 percent of the total weight of the slug. If Obama was to rewrite a law that clearly states “constructed entirely” to mean whatever percentage he wants, he could in theory end up banning all rifle ammunition.

The administration claims that the ban was necessary because they “must determine that . . . [the] projectile does not pose a significant threat to law enforcement officers . . . .” Still over the 10 years 2004-2013, of the 511 officers murdered, zero officers were killed with the bullets fired from handguns. There is no evidence that the bullets were ever even fired at police.

In order to ban the bullets, the Obama administration would have had to run roughshod over another part of the law allowing exemptions for ammunition “primarily intended” for sporting purposes, ignoring past decisions from Republican and Democratic administrations from Reagan on.

With all the unilateral changes that the Obama administration has enacted in health care and other guns laws, the question is: why is this time different? Did Obama finally overreach too far or too often?

John R. Lott Jr. is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author of the recently released “At the Brink: Will Obama Push Us Over the Edge?”

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