National Rifle Association (NRA) Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre relied on numerous falsehoods to claim that President Obama will move to ban sales of all firearm ammunition before he leaves office, thus making “the very real nightmare of every single gun owner in this country” a reality.
In the May issue of the NRA's magazine, America's 1st Freedom, LaPierre wrote, “President Barack Obama is setting the table to ban your ammunition -- all of it,” and claimed that “the remaining two years of Obama's term pose the greatest threat ever to the Second Amendment and our freedom.”
LaPierre imagined a ludicrous scheme where “two fatal turns of events” would lead the EPA to ban all lead ammunition and, subsequently, the Obama administration to ban all non-lead ammunition. According to LaPierre, “The president's bureaucrats at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are partnering with private enviro-radicals to ban lead projectiles -- including all hunting bullets -- as hazardous.”
Despite the fact that the EPA has given no indication that it is preparing regulations on lead ammunition, LaPierre insisted that the agency is still seeking a ban.
The facts prove him wrong. In December 2014, FoxNews.com reported that "[i]n a decision favorable to gun enthusiasts," a federal court ruled against environmentalists who argued that the EPA has the authority to regulate lead ammunition. According to FoxNews.com, “The National Rifle Association and much of the pro-gun lobby intervened on the EPA's side in urging the federal appeals court to uphold the dismissal of a lawsuit by 101 environmentalist organizations.” (The EPA does not believe it has authority to regulate lead ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act.)
Furthermore, as the NRA's own website notes, the NRA declared “victory” in December 2014, after claiming it secured congressional appropriations language that included “a new provision to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or any other federal agency, from regulating traditional ammunition and fishing tackle.”
More broadly, LaPierre ignored the fact that proposals to ban lead ammunition have only focused on its use in hunting, because lead in spent ammunition leaches into the ecosystem and can fatally poison endangered wildlife. Environmental groups are not trying to ban lead ammunition used for the purpose of self-defense. For example, in California, the first state to ban lead ammunition for hunting, a new regulation banning lead bullets only applies “when taking wildlife.”
The other fallacy LaPierre forwards to back up his theory that Obama is planning to take away Americans' ammunition has to do with the since-abandoned effort by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to ban a particular type of armor-piercing round used in the AR-15 assault weapon and similar military-style guns.
The ATF announced its intent to try and ban a particular type of AR-15 ammunition known as M855, or “green tip,” in February. Citing concerns for the safety of law enforcement officers, the ATF said the move was necessary because the round contains a steel penetrator, which makes it more powerful than other types of ammunition used in the AR-15.
If Obama “can set a precedent by banning AR-15 ammunition,” LaPierre wrote, “he is well on his way to banning any and all of the ammo his anti-freedom heart desires.”
But in March, after the NRA unleashed a campaign against the proposed ban, the ATF announced that it was withdrawing its proposal. Asked whether the ATF had any future plans to ban “green tip,” then-ATF Director B. Todd Jones told a congressional hearing, “It probably isn't going to happen any time soon,” adding, “We are not going to move forward.” Even if the ATF were to reverse course and ban “green tip” ammo, a multitude of non-lead ammunition options, both for the AR-15 rifle and all other guns, would still be available for purchase.
LaPierre's baseless assertion that one of Obama last acts as president will be to ban all firearm ammunition is just the latest chapter of the NRA's “massive Obama conspiracy” theory, which imagines the president seeking “to deceive voters and hide his true intentions to destroy the Second Amendment in our country.”