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Congressman Steve Israel

Representing the 3rd District of NEW YORK

After ATF Delays Proposal, Rep. Israel Calls for Ban on Dangerous Armor-Piercing Bullets

Mar 16, 2015
Press Release
Announces Legislation to Protect Law Enforcement from “Cop-Killer” Ammo. In 2014, 50 Police Officers Killed with Firearms in the Line of Duty

Woodbury, NY – After the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) caved to the gun lobby and delayed a proposal to ban “green tip” ammunition, Congressman Steve Israel (NY-03) called on ATF to reevaluate the decision and immediately ban 5.56 mm M855 green tip ammunition, commonly referred to as “armor-piercing” or “cop-killer” bullets. Additionally, Rep. Israel announced the Modernize Law Enforcement Protection Act that would extend the definition of armor-piercing ammunition to include all bullets that can pierce body armor and be used in  handguns. Later this week, Rep. Israel will join colleagues to send a letter to ATF Director Todd Jones asking that he immediately review the proposal and ban armor-piercing ammunition.

“The ATF’s decision to cave to the gun lobby and allow life threatening armor-piercing bullets to remain on the streets is not only reckless, but cowardly,” said Rep. Israel. “I stand with our law enforcement officers and first responders who risk their lives every day to keep our communities safe - ATF should stop jeopardizing their safety and Congress must pass common-sense gun safety laws to protect lives and keep our men and women in uniform safe.”

“This legislation is an important step to protect law enforcement from ammunition that may penetrate body armor. Technology often outpaces legislation and the continuing review of new products by the Attorney General’s office will protect from future loopholes in the law,” said Nassau County Acting Commissioner of Police Thomas C Krumpter.

On Tuesday, March 10, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives decided to delay its proposal to update its framework for evaluating armor-piercing ammunition under the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act (LEOPA) of 1986. This would leave dangerous ammunition on the streets.

Specifically, the Modernize Law Enforcement Protection Act introduced with Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), would require the Attorney General to modify the definition of armor-piercing ammunition to conform to the performance of the bullet. Current law limits the definition for armor-piercing ammunition as bullets or bullet cores used in handguns which are made from one or a combination of certain metals. It would also require the Attorney General to establish testing criteria to assess a bullet’s lethality against the minimum standards of body armor worn by law enforcement personnel.

This new legislation makes necessary updates to previous common-sense gun safety protections for law enforcement. In 1986, the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act (LEOPA) was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan to  ban armor piercing bullets for handguns but not for hunting rifles. Because of significant developments in bullet propellants, coatings and materials, such as Teflon, the original Law Enforcement Protection Act of 1986 is now outdated. As a result, the marketplace has been flooded by growing volumes of ammunition that are fully capable of piercing body armor while skirting the definition of the 1986 ban.  Before 2011, few manufacturers sought exemptions and the ATF only granted two, including for “green tip” 5.56 mm bullets because they were largely used for hunting. Due to advancements in firearm technology gun manufacturers have requested 30 new exemptions since 2011. “Green tip” ammunition can now be used in some types of handguns, and is capable of penetrating a police officer’s body armor or bullet-proof vest when fired.

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