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"Armor Piercing Ammunition" & "Plastic Gun" Non-Issues

Thursday, July 27, 2000

In an effort to scare voters on the gun issue, politicians such as Barbara Boxer, Chuck Schumer and Carolyn McCarthy, often resurrect two phony issues: "Plastic Guns" and "Armor-Piercing Ammunition."



For the record . . .

In April 1997, the often-mischaracterized issue of "armor piercing ammunition" finally was laid to rest by research conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF). The study was done following Clinton-Gore Administration calls for legislation that would have outlawed practically all rifle ammunition used by hunters and a wide variety of handgun ammunition traditionally used for sport and self-defense.

** BATF`s study concluded that: "(E)xisting laws are working, no additional legislation regarding such laws is necessary."

** The "existing laws" were adopted in 1986 and prohibit the manufacture and importation, for private use, of handgun bullets made of special, hard metals and (in a 1994 amendment) specially-jacketed lead bullets. These bullets were invented for use by law enforcement and military personnel. NRA helped draft the 1986 provisions and didn`t object to the 1994 amendment. (;18 U.S.C. 922(a)(7) and (8), and (b)(5), and 921(a)(17)(B) and (C))

** Legislation similar to that backed by the Clinton-Gore Administration was first proposed in the 1980s and was opposed by both the Departments of Justice and Treasury, and rejected by Congress.

** Use of the sensational term, "cop killer bullet," is dishonest and misleading. There has never been any bullet invented for the purpose of killing police officers. And, as the BATF reported to Congress in 1997, no law enforcement officer has ever been killed or even injured because an armor piercing bullet penetrated a bullet-resistant vest.

** Gun control advocates` groundless claims mislead the public and the resultant publicity endanger police officers. BATF reported to Congress on the need to "avoid any experimentation with police officer lives that could conceivably lead to numerous additional officer fatalities."

The "Plastic Gun" Non-Issue

Controversy over non-issues doesn`t just waste time and money. It becomes dangerous when it diverts energies from addressing the real problems. Such was the case with "plastic guns," nefariously branded and paraded about as the terrorist`s new tool. Law enforcement, aviation officials and firearms experts exploded the "plastic gun" myth in testimony before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Crime.

** The "plastic gun" is a myth. There was never an all-plastic gun in the marketplace. The notion was created by the media. Phillip McGuire, Associate Director of Law Enforcement of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) testified: "The entire issue was raised in response to reports, many wildly inaccurate, concerning a particular firearm, the Glock 17." (House Subcommittee on Crime, May 15, 1986)

** The Glock 17--constructed of more than a pound of hardened steel, about 83% of its total weight--was fully detectable by airport security systems existing when it was approved for importation by BATF. Billie Vincent, FAA Director of Civil Aviation Security, testified: "(D)espite a relatively common impression to the contrary, there is no current non-metal firearm which is not reasonably detectable by present technology and methods in use at our airports today, nor to my knowledge is anyone on the threshold of developing such a firearm." (House Subcommittee on Crime, May 15, 1986)

** The FAA has concluded that "the first line of defense" must be "improved methods of screening as well as improving technology . . . to combat the threat of highjacking or terrorist activity in our air transportation systems." More effective efforts include better training and screening of airport personnel and having state-of-the-art detection equipment in our nation`s airports. Well-trained people to complement existing and new technologies will go a long way toward beating terrorism. Banning any firearm is not the answer. The fact is, it`s a media-made myth that dangerously ignores the real problem.

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