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Congresswoman Jackie Speier Introduces Bill to Update Ban on Armor-Piercing Ammunition

March 19, 2015
Press Release



WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo Counties) introduced the Modernized Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act of 2015. The bill would update the legal definition of armor-piercing ammunition in the 1986 law banning “cop-killer” bullets so that it keeps pace with technological advances.

“America’s men and women in law enforcement must be safer and have better technology than the criminals who want to kill them,” said Speier. “It is unacceptable for them to be outgunned. The ATF has decided not to use its authority and take this common-sense step updating the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act of 1986, so it’s up to Congress to act. My legislation will make sure our first responders are as well protected from ‘cop-killer’ ammunition as they were when the law was passed.”

In 1986, President Reagan signed into law the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act, which banned the civilian sale and transfer of armor-piercing ammunition. This ban defined armor-piercing ammunition as bullets or bullet cores used in handguns which are made from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium. Current law thus determines whether a round is armor-piercing based solely on the metallurgical content of the bullet.

Today, significant developments in more advanced bullet propellants, coatings, and materials such as Teflon have rendered the 1986 ban dangerously ineffective and outdated. As a result of these technological advancements, the marketplace has been flooded by growing volumes of ammunition that is fully capable of piercing body armor while skirting the definition of the 1986 ban. It has been 27 years since Congress acted to protect law enforcement personnel from “cop-killer” bullets, yet, due to these alarming developments, our first responders are increasingly at an even greater disadvantage than they were decades ago.

The Modernized Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act of 2015 would require the Attorney General to modify the definition of armor-piercing ammunition to conform to the performance of the bullet, rather than mere metallurgical content. It would also require the Attorney General to establish testing criteria to assess a bullet’s lethality against the minimum standards of body armor worn by law enforcement personnel.

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