It all starts with bureaucracy, of course. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, which has "Firearms" right there in its name, regulates ammunition based on laws passed by Congress. One of those laws, the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act of 1986, which passed 400-21 in the House and 97-1 in the Senate and was signed by God Reagan, says that any ammunition that "may be used in a handgun," is made of certain materials, like steel, and can pierce body armor can be banned. That's in the actual law. In fact, if the ATF didn't seek to ban those kinds of bullets, it would be violating the law. Pretty simple, no? Pretty cut and dried, no? If Congress doesn't like it, it can change the law.
So now there's this ammo, 5.56mm constituent projectiles of SS109 and M855 cartridges, which had been exempt from the law because they weren't used in handguns. This was the "sporting purposes" exception to the law. But now there are handguns that can fire these steel-tipped, armor-piercing bullets. The ATF is proposing banning the manufacture, sale and import of them. You can keep all the ones you have or will buy in your hording frenzy. But after that, the law says, the safety of police officers comes before your desire to hunt deer wearing bulletproof vests.
Of course, the gun-fellating right has lost its mind over this proposal because the ATF is part of the executive branch and that means the Negro communist Muslim president who hates America must want to kill all the white people and take their guns in order to burn the Constitution and install a Sharia law caliphate in the country. Or something like that.
"Obama to ban bullets by executive action," says the headline at the Washington Examiner (motto: "If you think the Washington Times is batshit crazy, you haven't met us"). "It's starting," the paper warns, "As promised, President Obama is using executive actions to impose gun control on the nation, targeting the top-selling rifle in the country, the AR-15 style semi-automatic, with a ban on one of the most-used AR bullets by sportsmen and target shooters." Which would be true except for the part where President Obama is not involved at all in this decision and has signed no executive action on it.
Yes, the ammo is used by the AR-15 rifle, the one beloved by mass shooters and men with tiny penises (sometimes one and the same). The NRA gets all folksy about the threat: "If they can’t ban the pie, so the thinking apparently goes, they might at least get the apples." That metaphor would work if there were only one kind of bullet or apple. If it turns out Macouns were poisonous when baked in a pie, you'd probably just say, "Well, screw it. Time to use Cortlands." You wouldn't gripe, "I'll never be able to make pie again."
The attitude of the gun-huffers is best exemplified by obvious sportsman Rush Limbaugh, who said on his show, Flabby the Deaf Clown's Masturbatorium of Hate, "It's the first. It's the beginning. You don't think all bullets except those held by the military and the cops are the objective? This is how we end up losing these...[Obama] wants to take guns out of everybody's hands, and if he can't do that, he's gonna take the bullets that go in the guns out of everybody's hands, and he's just begun that process today." Anyone who believes that deserves to be a shut-in with only one station available on his tiny radio.
The Rude Pundit's favorite comments came from a lackadaisical gun store owner in Springfield, Missouri, who is a former cop. He doesn't think the ban will happen; however, "Gun people tend to create their own drama," he said. "If we freaked out every time BATF discusses something we'd be freaking out on this all the time. Sometimes gun owners are their own worst enemy."
As for the usefulness of the ammo? While you'll hear a bunch about how popular the bullets are, this Springfield store owner said that "most of the target ranges his customers use have steel targets that can be damaged by the steel-tipped rounds so they don't buy that kind of ammunition."
They do like using it for "plinking," which is shooting bottles and crap, although unless those bottles have vests on, you could probably use something else. Also, they like it for home defense. What's more likely? Your home being invaded by murderers wearing body armor? Or some criminal using the bullets in an AR pistol to take out a cop?