If you haven’t been watching the NRA news, blogosphere, or message boards, I’ll catch you up. The ATF is proposing a new rule that would reclassify the venerable M855, so loved for its cheap price and military affiliation, be reclassified as armor piercing handgun ammunition, and would thus be banned for manufacture, transfer, or sale to private citizens due to the Gun Control Act of 1968. How are they doing this, you ask? Isn’t M855, and its SS109 projectile, a round developed for light machine guns, and widely issued as a standard NATO rifle cartridge? Doesn’t the 1968 GCA only apply to autoloading handgun ammunition? Why, yes, on both counts.
But, and here’s the rub. With the rise in popularity of the AR pistol as a workaround to NFA 1934 short barreled rifle regulations, the round is now “clearly” capable of being fired from magazine-fed pistols, and therefore “needs” to be controlled for safety reasons. The run M855 at all the online shops is already well underway. So far, traditional lead core FMJ remains untouched, as does most of the all-copper bullets designed for hunting in lead-ban states. I don’t want to wade into the murky waters of the gun control debate, but I will just leave this quote here. From Machiavelli, chapter 20:
There never was a new prince who has disarmed his subjects; rather when he has found them disarmed he has always armed them, because, by arming them, those arms become yours, those men who were distrusted become faithful, and those who were faithful are kept so, and your subjects become your adherents. And whereas all subjects cannot be armed, yet when those whom you do arm are benefited, the others can be handled more freely, and this difference in their treatment, which they quite understand, makes the former your dependants, and the latter, considering it to be necessary that those who have the most danger and service should have the most reward, excuse you. But when you disarm them, you at once offend them by showing that you distrust them, either for cowardice or for want of loyalty, and either of these opinions breeds hatred against you. And because you cannot remain unarmed, it follows that you turn to mercenaries, which are of the character already shown; even if they should be good they would not be sufficient to defend you against powerful enemies and distrusted subjects. Therefore, as I have said, a new prince in a new principality has always distributed arms. Histories are full of examples. But when a prince acquires a new state, which he adds as a province to his old one, then it is necessary to disarm the men of that state, except those who have been his adherents in acquiring it; and these again, with time and opportunity, should be rendered soft and effeminate; and matters should be managed in such a way that all the armed men in the state shall be your own soldiers who in your old state were living near you.
Food for thought.