NRA Explore
APPEARS IN News

History Of Federal Ammunition Law . . .

Thursday, July 29, 1999

In 1966, Lorain County, Ohio, coroner Dr. Paul Kopsch, Lorain Police Sgt. Daniel Turcus, Jr., and Dr. Kopsch`s special investigator, Donald Ward, began designing special-purpose handgun ammunition for law enforcement agencies` use. The objective was to provide police with handgun ammunition capable of penetrating hard materials, such as automobile doors, cinder blocks and walls. Previous efforts by major manufacturers at producing ammunition of this general type had been only marginally successful.

Most projectiles, constructed primarily of lead, a comparatively soft metal, cannot consistently penetrate hard materials when fired at handgun ammunition velocities. In the 1970s, Kopsch, Turcus and Ward began producing their "KTW" line of handgun ammunition, featuring projectiles manufactured with case-hardened steel cores capable of significant penetration, even when fired at handgun ammunition velocities. In 1981, after experimenting with various metals and alloys, they began manufacturing their projectiles using brass as the primary element.

To prevent damage to firearm barrels caused by firing hard metal projectiles through them, KTW projectiles were coated with Teflon. Many in the media, however, incorrectly claimed that Teflon also lubricated the point of impact and significantly increased the ability of the projectiles to defeat soft body armor (often called "bullet proof vests") worn by many police officers and other individuals.

Government tests proved otherwise. The Justice Department determined that Teflon had "little or no effect on the penetrating qualities of the projectile" when fired at soft body armor, while the U.S. Treasury Department concluded that Teflon was "little more than a cosmetic additive" to the ammunition.

In January 1982, NBC TV transformed KTW ammunition into a political issue, by running a sensational, nationwide, prime-time television spectacle titled "Cop Killer Bullets." The title of the piece was as preposterous its message. KTW ammunition had never been offered for sale to the general public; it was originally intended for, and was marketed to, law enforcement and the armed forces. Additionally, no police officer had been killed with KTW or similar projectiles, a record intact to the present.

Law enforcement officials pled with NBC to discontinue its sensational reports on KTW, lest criminals learn of the virtually unknown ammunition. Placing its ratings and profits ahead of the lives of law enforcement officers, NBC not only refused to drop its coverage, but rebroadcast "Cop Killer Bullets" six months later. Not to be undone, the print media soon joined in the hype.

Publicity-hungry anti-gun members of Congress soon recognized that NBC`s "Cop Killer Bullet" term was the most exciting buzzword since "Saturday Night Special." Rep. Mario Biaggi (D-N.Y.) introduced "a bill to stop the proliferation of `cop-killer` bullets." Biaggi`s bill proposed a performance based prohibition, which would have outlawed any bullet that, when fired from a 5" barrelled handgun, would be capable of penetrating the equivalent of 18 layers of Kevlar, the tradename of a fiber used in the construction of soft body armor.

Technical experts of the FBI, BATF, Secret Service and police forensic labs throughout the country warned that a performance based ban would be impractical and unenforceable. The National Rifle associaition (NRA) warned additionally that it would have affected more than 85% of commonplace, conventional hunting and target shooting rifle ammunition, in addition to the specialty handgun rounds that were the intended targets of the bill. NRA joined many in law enforcement in opposition to the bill.

Federal and local law enforcement experts could not think of an acceptable approach to restricting the ammunition, but with input from the NRA, the original performance-based concept was discarded for one based upon the design and construction of the projectiles themselves. In 1986, after a four-year battle, Congress approved H.R. 3121, which prohibited the sale, other than to law enforcement and the armed forces, of ammunition manufactured with "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," other than shotgun shot required by federal regulations for hunting and other specifically-described projectiles. Upon that bill`s passage, the original sponsor, Rep. Mario Biaggi (D-N.Y.), said "Our final legislative product was not some watered-down version of what we set out to do. In the end, there was no compromise on the part of police safety." Despite NRA`s help in writing the law, the anti-gun lobby continues to claim that NRA opposed it.

In 1994, after the development in Sweden of another special-purpose handgun round, one never introduced in the United States, Congress again used a construction-based approach to restrict its sale, by prohibiting sales of ammunition manufactured with 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."

Modern, lightweight Level A/IIA body armor vests typically worn by police officers are capable of defeating conventional handgun projectiles, which comprise the vast majority of rounds encountered by officers in hostile encounters. According to Second Chance Body Armor, Inc., the industry leader in the manufacture of police protective vests, police officers` "chances of encountering (threats) beyond Level A/IIA are REMOTE." (Emphasis in the original)

Heavier, higher-performance vests capable of defeating more powerful rifle rounds are also readily available to police officers. However, higher-powered rifle ammunition accounts for a small percentage of the ammunition officers face in dealing with criminals.

IN THIS ARTICLE
Ammunition
TRENDING NOW
California: Governor Brown Takes Action on Final Firearm-Related Bills

Monday, September 26, 2016

California: Governor Brown Takes Action on Final Firearm-Related Bills

Today, Governor Brown made his decision on the final firearm-related bills of the 2016 legislative session that made it to his desk.   Governor Brown vetoed two anti-gun bills, AB 450 and SB 1332, and signed ...

Not The Victim Hillary Needs

News  

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Not The Victim Hillary Needs

This feature appears in the October ‘16 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association. “Why can’t everyone just have their DNA on file? Then it would ...

California: Referendum Update

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

California: Referendum Update

On behalf of the National Rifle Association (NRA), we would like to thank all of the volunteers and individuals who participated in the Veto Gunmageddon ballot referendum qualification effort.  Despite the tremendous efforts of all involved, ...

War on Terror or a War on Guns?

News  

Friday, September 23, 2016

War on Terror or a War on Guns?

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, was in New York City recently on an official visit. Commenting on the bombs that exploded while he was in town, he opined that such attacks are now simply ...

Show Your Support—NEW NRA Yard Signs Available!

News  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Show Your Support—NEW NRA Yard Signs Available!

Show your support for NRA and the Second Amendment this election cycle by purchasing an NRA yard sign.  With everything that is at stake this year, including the Presidency, the balance of the U.S. Senate ...

Virginia Politician and Clinton Backer Brands Trump Supporters as “Mentally Deficient”

News  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Virginia Politician and Clinton Backer Brands Trump Supporters as “Mentally Deficient”

With the presidential race tighter than ever as it heads into its final stretch, panicked Hillary Clinton supporters are desperate to find a way to discredit, not just Donald Trump, but anyone who would dare ...

Montana: Bloomberg Targeting Missoula – Your Action Needed NOW!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Montana: Bloomberg Targeting Missoula – Your Action Needed NOW!

On Monday, September 26, the Missoula City Council is scheduled to consider an ordinance that would only create a burden for law-abiding citizens and may turn them into criminals if they unknowingly violate the ordinance.

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

News  

Friday, July 1, 2016

California Governor Signs Draconian Gun Control Package into Law

Fairfax, Va.— California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law on Friday a package of gun bills that were rushed through the state legislature with no regard for proper process. The National Rifle Association Institute for ...

Pennsylvania: Semi-Automatic Rifle Hunting Legislation will go to the House Floor Next Week!

Hunting  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Pennsylvania: Semi-Automatic Rifle Hunting Legislation will go to the House Floor Next Week!

Next week, and important pro-hunting reform bill, Senate Bill 737, may be considered in the House of Representatives.  Please call your state Representative and urge them to vote in favor of Senate Bill 737!

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.