White House supports ammo ban, but ATF behind it (VIDEO)

The White House press secretary addressed the 5.56 “green tip” ammo ban yesterday during a briefing with reporters, saying while the president supports prohibiting armor-piercing bullets, questions about the ban should be directed to the agency that proposed it.

“In this case, we’re talking about an ATF proposal that’s being considered through its standard process and it’s open now for public comment,” the White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, told reporters. “For specific questions about that, I’d refer you to the ATF.”

“But it would be fair to say … that we are looking at additional ways to protect our brave men and women in law enforcement and believe that this process is valuable for that reason alone,” he said. “This seems to be an area where everyone should agree that if there are armor-piercing bullets available that can fit into easily concealed weapons, that it puts our law enforcement at considerably more risk.”

There’s been a fair amount of speculation by gun groups and conservative pundits about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive’s proposed changes to regulate armor piercing ammo. Early on, the National Rifle Association connected the proposal to President Obama with little evidence to support the claim.

“Having failed to enact a federal ban on the AR-15, America’s most popular rifle, he’s now using the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to do the next best thing,” the NRA said in a statement in February. “ATF is now proposing to ban a whole class of common rifle ammunition used in that overwhelmingly popular firearm.”

In response to the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the White House issued 23 executive actions in January 2013 and a plan to curb gun violence in the U.S. Part of the plan to reinstate an Assault Weapons Ban that included prohibiting possession and transfer of armor-piercing ammo.

But efforts died down months later after the White House’s key proposal of requiring background checks for private sales failed to garner enough votes in the U.S. Senate to advance.

The ATF said its proposal stems from meetings with representatives from law enforcement, the gun and ammo industries, and non-governmental organizations in November 2012 to discuss sporting purpose exemptions for armor-piercing ammo. Afterward, the ATF said it solicited and accepted public comments on the matter.

In regard to the timeliness of the proposed changes, the ATF added that it has seen an increase in requests for sporting purpose exemptions for armor-piercing ammo. From 2011 to now, the ATF received 30 such requests – exponentially more than the years before.

The 17-page proposal is not an explicit ban on a specific type of ammunition, but contrarily states changing the framework would give the ATF the legal authority to more easily exempt armor piercing rounds for sporting purposes. The agency suggests approving the changes would prevent a ban on green tip ammo.

The ATF opened a 30-day window for the public to comment on the proposal. It closes March 16.