By: Sarah Ames
Sporting goods and shooting supply stores around the Midlands are selling out of one kind of ammunition for the popular AR-15 rifle. The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) wants to ban the green tip bullet known as the M-855 ball and supplies are disappearing off the shelves. The bullets have been sold for years and are one of the most popular type used for target practice in the wildly popular AR-15 model rifles.
The ATF wants to reclassify the ball ammunition as "armor piercing." They say the bullet, with a steel pin surrounded by lead, can pierce through police body armor. The bureau says banning the ammo could save the life of a law enforcement officer.
Armor piercing bullets have been banned for use in pistols for years but the green tipped bullets were exempt because they could only be used in rifles. Now some manufacturers are making pistols that use the shells thus the ATF says the bullets fall under the ban.
AR-15 owners say the ruling is arbitrary, the bullet is not designed for piercing armor and is used almost exclusively in rifles for sport shooting.
A spokesman at Palmetto State Armory, says his store has sold out of the shells and predicts their next shipment will quickly be bought up. The store's marketing officer, Adam Ruonala, says people are thanking him for continuing to sell the bullet. He says the controversy surrounding the ban has more to do with implications.
“A lot of the hysteria around this particular ban obviously goes back to the slippery slope idea. That if they start regulating one aspect of a firearm then that opens the door for it to constantly increase the regulations, and next thing you know now you aren't allowed to have a certain gun," Ruonala says.
USC senior Braxton Allen sees another side to the story.
“An AR-15 is a nice rifle to shoot, but if its able to pierce armor which you don't need that for anything else if you are going to be on a target range you just need to hit the target you don't need to pierce it,” Braxton said.
Rounola thinks people are always going to protect their right to the Second Amendment.
“You're telling them now in America which is supposed to be the greatest country in the world…where you can do whatever you want as long as you stay within the legal guidelines that they cant do something and you know Americans don't like it when they can do something or cant have something," Rounola said.
He adds this ban on the AR-15 ammunition would be a direct threat to just that.
The ATF's public comment period ends March 16. It is possible that an executive order from President Obama could ban the ammunition.