My problem with the ATF's 5.56 ‘green tip’ ammo ban

The NRA has come out against a new ATF proposal that would prohibit the sale of so-called “armor piercing ammo” to law-abiding civilians in these United States, including popular 5.56 “green tipped” rounds.

Their opposition makes sense to me, I suppose, because I oppose this ban as well, though maybe not for exactly the same reasons.

Look, I’m a police officer, but, first and foremost, I’m a proud American who loves personal freedom and liberty. I’m also a lifetime member of the NRA and, as both a cop and a gun enthusiast, I have to state for the record that I would never want to work for the ATF.  This is also why weighing in on the ATFs proposition to ban green tip rounds is so important to me.

I understand the need for wise laws.  Without law and order there would be anarchy and the result would be violence and chaos.  We need wise legislation and committed men and women to enforce this legislation.  That’s what police and the criminal justice system attempts to do as best it can—enforce existing laws.

Say or think whatever you like—I really don’t care—I personally don’t think any law-abiding citizen needs a cache of frag grenades.  I don’t think they need one frag grenade.  Save frags for war.  But I don’t feel the same way about a lot of things the ATF spends their time regulating out of the hands of Americans.  Why should we care if anyone has a short barreled shotgun or a short barreled rifle?  Perhaps a better question is why should I be required to pay outlandish fees for an NFA stamp to own anything?

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) as they are now properly referred to is unique among LE departments in many ways, but perhaps chief among them is that their activities usually center around policing otherwise legal commerce.  However, like most law enforcement agencies, the the money they collect from busting bad guys depends greatly on what civilians cannot legally own. But that isn’t really at all why I think the ban is a bad idea.

Viewing the ATF proposal through cop glasses, I understand law enforcement’s need and desire to keep armored piercing ammo out of the hands of dangerous people.  I don’t want to get shot with armor piercing rounds.  I don’t want my buddies to get shot either.

But the truth of the matter is that all my friends in law enforcement that have been shot were NOT shot by armor piercing rounds.  They were shot—and unfortunately one of them was killed—by everyday ammo, so singling out green-tip ammo simply makes no sense to me.

I oppose any legislation that bans self defense ammo, raises the cost of ammo or thwarts the amount of ammo citizens can buy or own.  I’m anti violence, not anti gun.  At the end of my shift, I take off my police uniform and I’m a citizen.  Really, I’m a citizen when I wear my uniform, too, and I want what’s best for me as a US citizen.  I want what’s best for my children and their children.  I want what’s best for all Americans and I don’t ever think arbitrarily taking something away from them is ever what’s best.

Incidentally, banning decent, law-abiding, good citizens with restricting and foolish laws makes these same honest and good people want to break the law.  Let’s say, hypothetically, that my neighbor has some green tip ammo.  If a ban occurs, which also makes it illegal for him to own or possess those rounds, he’ll need to turn the rounds in or he’ll be breaking the law.  That’d be stupid.  What’d be even more stupid is if I’m expected (or incentivized) to turn him in.

Good people aren’t going to shoot cops. With that in mind, we need to remember that the only way we can be free is to be good.  That stands supreme.  If we want to maintain our cherished freedoms, we must be good.  Being morally good and maintaining liberty go hand in hand.

Problems arise, as I’ve discussed ad nauseam on, when evil people do evil deeds.  At that point legislatures attempt to rule evil people into compliance, not acknowledging that evil people break the law no matter what’s in front of them.  People without moral values don’t care about laws.

Most of us who own guns clearly understand that guns don’t kill people, people kill people.  Therefore, outlawing guns or certain types of ammo won’t stop people from getting, stealing or otherwise appropriating guns and ammo and murdering others.  I wish our politicians understood that but unfortunately, some people just don’t get it.

Regardless, we must not forget to examine our own habits, too—gun owners are not above being at fault on certain things. What I’m talking about here has nothing to do with the ATF wanting to make green tip ammo illegal, but rather about understanding this ammunition’s performance.  For instance, I’ve seen some uniformed shooters ruin other folks’ 500 brinell steel with their green tip ammo.  In my opinion, these inconsiderate guys really need to keep their ammo in the ammo can.

In the end, I like what James Madison said about ‘laws” like these.  Perhaps he had entities like the ATF in mind when he wrote the following:  It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read… or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow.

Until next time, keep your powder dry (and consider stocking up on green tip ammo).

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of

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