A bipartisan Senate majority has joined the bipartisan House majority to decry the Obama Administration’s attempt to ban common M855 ball ammunition, one of the most popular and economical forms of training ammunition for the best-selling rifle in the United States, the AR-15.

A majority in both the Senate and House — 52 senators, 238 House members — have joined to oppose the Obama administration’s move to ban a popular type of ammo used in the top-selling AR-15 rifle and pistol because it pierces police body armor.

A week after the House members, led by Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, sent a letter of opposition to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley echoed that in his own letter signed by 51 others.

In their letter, the senators said that the 5.56 M855 “green tip” cartridge was exempted in a 1986 law, along with other rifle ammo from bans on armor-piercing rounds. The reason: popular rifle ammo is not used in shootouts with police.

They also raised new concerns that the administration appears poised for a much wider ammo ban.

“Second Amendment rights require not only access to firearms but to bullets. If law-abiding gun owners cannot obtain rifle ammunition, or face substantial difficulty in finding ammunition available and at reasonable prices because government entities are banning such ammunition, then the Second Amendment is at risk,” said Grassley’s letter.

As we’ve noted repeatedly, all centerfire rifle ammunition will pierce the soft Level II armor worn by police, because soft armor is designed to stop pistol bullets. The reason that this proposed ban is seen as such a threat to the Second Amendment is that if it is allowed to stand, the Administration could unilaterally declare all rifle ammunition is “armor piercing,” unilaterally banning all manufacture, gutting the Second Amendment.

That was never the intent of the law Obama’s rogue ATF is attempting to abuse.

The Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act of 1986 (LEOPA) was written to protect police from pistol bullets designed to pierce soft body armor, something that all gun rights organizations support.  Under federal law, M855 ball ammunition doesn’t meet either part of the two-part definition of “armor piercing” in the LEOPA which the Obama Administration is attempting to pervert.

18 U.S.C. 921(a)(17)(B) provides:

(B) The term “armor piercing ammunition” means—

(i) a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper or depleted uranium; or

(ii) a full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.

Far from being a “projectile or projectile core,” “constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper or depleted uranium,” the core of the M855 is soft lead, like the vast majority of bullets. 80-percent of the M855’s  total weight is the bullet’s lead core.

The projectile is also neither “designed nor intended for use” in a handgun, but was designed in the 1970s for rifles with 20″ barrels, when AR-15 pistols didn’t even exist. Further, the jacket of the projectile is far less than, “25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.” Try about 5-percent.

Quite literally, the Obama ATF is exceeding their statutory authority, and are attempting to usurp Congress’s power and responsibility to write law.

Congress indeed intends to write law addressing the Obama Administration’s attempt to undermine the Second Amendment. Florida Congressman Thomas J. Rooney has proposed H.R. 1180, the “Protecting Second Amendment Rights Act,” which would, “prohibit the ATF or any other federal agency from issuing or enforcing any new restriction or prohibition on the manufacture, importation or sale of ammunition in the United States.”

Gun rights groups are working with Congress on other legislative efforts as well to ensure that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.