Representative Jackie Speier (D, CA) is promoting her new bill, H.R. 2566, the "Modernized Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act of 2013." If passed, the bill could change the definition of armor-piercing ammunition and thereby ban some types of armor-piercing rounds, possibly including most of the ammo used in rifles.
The bill is very well intentioned – Speier hopes that banning certain types of ammo will help protect police officers and other first responders. “It’s been 27 years since Congress acted to protect law enforcement personnel from so-called 'cop-killer' bullets,” she said in a press release, “Our first responders are at a greater disadvantage today than they were decades ago. If they are going to put themselves in the line of fire in our communities and neighborhoods, we owe it to them to update existing laws and get with the times.”
The text of the bill is not available yet, so the American people can only speculate over the bill’s exact language. Kurt Hofmann of Examiner argues that the bill could jeopardize nearly all types of rifle ammo. The type of body armor worn by first responders is much weaker than the thick, bulky armor worn by S.W.A.T. members. If the bill bans bullets that can pierce through first responder body armor as Hofmann expects, then virtually all types of rifle ammunition could be on the chopping block. The body armor worn by first responders is generally meant for the low-powered rounds fired from pistols and can’t withstand assault rifles or other high-powered firearms.
A bill that only addresses S.W.A.T.-level armor piercing rounds, however, would be significantly less restrictive.
Considering that the bill is designed to protect law enforcement officers and criminals usually use easily-concealed handguns, it’s possible that the bill will only affect ammunition used in handguns. Even then, rifle ammo might get caught in the crossfire. Hofmann points out that gunsmiths modify handguns to fire high-powered rifle rounds. If there is a rifle bullet that pierces body armor, then odds are good that somewhere out there is a homemade handgun that can shoot it.
Do all of these issues punch holes in Speier’s armor-piercing bill, or will this be the next major piece of legislation that gun control advocates rally around?