Clearly the President isn’t buying into that whole Lame Duck theory and will continue to try to implement his agenda using the pen and the phone. Barack Obama has made it clear for some time now that he would dearly love to instate a new ban on so called “assault rifles” (more commonly known among the sane as sporting rifles) but has been unable to do so through Congress. Now, typical of his more recent, bold approaches to problems, he seems to be trying to find a different way to tackle the issue by having the BATFE ban one of the most common and popular forms of ammunition for the weapons. Our colleague Bob Owens has the details.

The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) is announcing that they will be working with Congress to craft legislation to block the ATF’s attempt to unilaterally and unlawfully ban a very common cartridge fired by the best-selling rifle in the United States.

AR-15-style rifles, also known as modern sporting rifles, are the best-selling rifles in the United States, with well over five million in circulation. One of the most common cartridges used by AR-15 shooters is the M855, a 5.56 NATO caliber 62-grain lead-core bullet with a mild steel insert. This ball ammunition is being phased out of military service due to its poor stopping power, but is very popular as an inexpensive and accurate surplus round for citizens primarily interested in marksmanship training, shooting at paper or reactive targets.

This is a procedural move rather than legislative, which attempts to reclassify the popular AR-15 rounds as “armor piercing” so they can be removed from public sale. Unfortunately for the sponsors of such a move, industry experts would argue that the revised definition flies in the face of reality.

As Bob notes above, one of the reasons that the M855 “green tip” rounds are so popular is that they are relatively inexpensive and widely available. The reason behind this, based on the law of supply and demand, is that they are being dropped from military service. This is not being done because the rounds are too deadly, obviously. If they were there would be a lot more of it being ordered. There are two problems with these rounds (for military use) which I discussed with Bob down here at CPAC. The first is that they don’t have quite the same “oomph” as other available ammunition. But the second reason, which makes them even less effective for combat, is that the steel insert ball ammunition doesn’t deform very much on impact. The practical upshot of that is that the rounds, assuming you manage a good hit with one, tend to produce “in and out” wounds because the bullet doesn’t “tumble” inside the target. (I’ll leave you to look that one up if you’re not familiar with the term, as it may be disturbing to some readers.)

But while these drawbacks make the M855 less than ideal in a combat situation, they still make great rounds for paper targets and marksman competitions. This is why, as mentioned above, they are so plentiful and affordable. If the BATFE can ban their sale, it will deal a significant blow to the millions of Americans who own AR-15 style sporting rifles.