August 4, 2005
Is S. 397 a Trojan Horse?
You may have heard a lot of praise for S. 397, which last week passed the U.S. Senate. This bill is supposedly intended to protect firearms manufacturers against nuisance lawsuits.
There's been minor grumbling about the "safety lock" provisions in the proposed legislation, but otherwise S. 397 has had overwhelming support.
Just about the time we were wondering why even some usually gun-unfriendly senators like Herb Kohl (D-WI) were in favor of this bill, an alert Congresswatcher contacted us with a warning.
"The only thing I see that's good about the bill," this sharp-eyed observer wrote, "is that it hasn't become law."
After taking a closer look, we agree.
As our correspondent pointed out, the real problem lies in Sec. 6 "Armor Piercing Ammunition."
THIS SECTION COULD ALLOW ALL CENTERFIRE RIFLE AMMO TO BE BANNED
Part One of Sec. 6 makes it illegal to make, import, sell or deliver any "armor-piercing" ammunition EXCEPT:
1) For the use of state and federal government departments or agencies.
2) For export
3) For Attorney General-approved testing.
Part Two "enhances" criminal sentences for anyone who possesses "armor-piercing" ammunition during the commission of a crime.
Part Three is where the trap is really sprung. Because this part instructs the U.S. Attorney General to "conduct a study to determine whether a uniform standard for the testing of projectiles against Body Armor is feasible."
NOTE WELL: The tests to determine whether or not ammo is "armor piercing" are NOT to be conducted against armor plate, such as that used on military combat vehicles. The tests are to be conducted against body armor. And as anyone knowledgeable about firearms knows, VIRTUALLY ALL RIFLE AMMO WILL PENETRATE BODY ARMOR. So will some pistol ammo.
We asked firearms maker Len Savage if the warning we received was well-taken or whether this was simply a misinterpretation of the proposed law. Here's Len's reply:
"Yes. This gives the A.G. the power to say what is and is not "armor piercing." There is no language for what type of test is to be conducted (other than ballistic vests). If the test were on 1 inch "rolled homogeneous armor plate" then there would be no problem. If the test is a level I "vest" material, then EVERYTHING including .22 longs, are going to be illegal ammo.
"The bill would effectively give the power to decide to ONE person. NO vote, NO appeal, NO rights. (Just like the current mess with [the sloppy, no-standards testing practices of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms].)
"I figured it was a matter of time before they got around to figuring out: Control the ammo and you control the guns. Of course there would be born a "black market" for ammo, very close to the black market for marijuana, in size, scope, and risks. Next will be the sentencing recommendations for possession, and distributing (dealing). Components will be viewed as constructive intent of illegal manufacturing of "terrorist material."
"This is a dangerous path for America. I am forced to ask myself: Why the continued attack and obvious methodical disarming of American Citizens? There is only one answer: control and power."
Just as "Saturday-Night specials," "military-style assault weapons," "cop-killer bullets," and "sporting purposes" have all been used as deceptive, emotionally loaded key words to justify regulations and outright bans, it now appears that the designation "armor-piercing ammunition" is likely to be mis-applied in an attempt to deprive Americans of their rights.
We should all be asking some serious questions about the real impact S. 397 will have on our freedoms if it becomes law. One important question is: Why are our "leaders" so desperate that they would attempt to slip such a potentially draconian provision into a supposedly pro-gun bill?
The Liberty Crew
S. 397, Sec. 6 http://tinyurl.com/9u8mt (click on [S.397.ES], then on the link for Section 6)
A reality check on the U.S. government's sloppy firearms testing procedures: http://www.jpfo.org/alert20050701a.htm