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NRA Director Sen. Larry Craig's Ammunition Ban Amendment

by Angel Shamaya

Published: February 26, 2004
Updated: February 27, 2004 -- While National Rifle Association officials were busy denying that they'd been orchestrating a sellout in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) -- an NRA Director -- had been working on an ammunition ban amendment. On the Senate floor Thursday, he introduced, discussed, defended and tried to justify the "Craig/Frist" amendment (Sen.Amendt 2625). This amendment, said Craig, is needed "to strengthen current armor piercing ammunition law." NRA's point-man in the U.S. Senate says that this is "what the law enforcement community needs."

"We don't want to wipe out the hunting and sporting ammunition," said Craig. The "sporting purpose" test was used before -- as justification for firearm rights infringements via the 1938 Nazi Weapons Law and later copied nearly verbatim in the U.S. Gun Control Act of 1968.

"Let's send a message that armor piercing ammunition is flat off limits," said Sen. Craig.

The NRA Director went on to support strong enforcement of his proposed ammunition ban, using phrases like "prison for life."

Nobody can doubt that Senator Craig is one of the strongest supporters of the Second Amendment in Congress today. And his amendment was in response to Sen. Kennedy's much worse AP ammo-related amendment.

However, the Second Amendment does not enumerate the right of the people to keep and bear "sporting" arms. Banning any arms, or their ammunition, is clearly off limits to Congress. A longtime Director of the National Rifle Association ought to know that. Instead, he's supporting ammo restrictions -- based on the infamous Nazi "sporting purpose" text -- on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

Some might suggest that it doesn't matter what gets said on the Senate floor -- that what matters is what gets signed into law. People who believe that ought to consider the dangers here. Once a "pro gun" congressman publicly expresses support for ammunition control, he empowers the enemy and emboldens future attempts to whittle away our rights.

The truth about civilian possession of "armor piercing ammunition" is immutable, immovable, unchanging. If government employees can deploy AP ammo against the people, denying that same ammunition to the people is directly contradictory to the meaning, purpose and intent of the Second Amendment: a balance of power.

The excuse for banning AP ammo -- "to protect law enforcement employees" -- is a dangerous road to travel. It's the same justification used to ban magazines that hold more than ten rounds. It's the same reason given to deny The People free access to machineguns. It was the same foundation upon which the Clinton/Feinstein semi-auto rifle ban was built and signed into law.

When does that excuse stop working? When the legal magazine capacity is reduced to five rounds? When all semi-auto rifles are banned? When owning a bullet-resistant vest means life imprisonment -- unless the government signs your paycheck? When all handguns are banned?

If you use "protecting law enforcement" as justification to restrict the right of the people to keep and bear arms -- if you accept that unacceptable excuse for chipping away at the Second Amendment -- then lay down your arms and go tend your garden, catch up on your reading and forget about restoring the Second Amendment. There's no end to that excuse other than total disarmament -- because even a mere single shot .22 caliber rifle manufactured before World War One can be used to injure a law enforcement officer.

Bear in mind that Sen. Craig's ammo ban amendment was being offered by him -- to amend his own bill. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (S1805) is written to protect gun manufacturers from the frivolous lawsuits being waged by those whose ultimate goal is to ban all firearms. The bill is being used as a rider for many other gun controls, leading up to the final vote on Tuesday. Sen. Craig made the above statements on C-SPAN.

We acquired the text of the Craig-Frist AP ammo amendment. You can read it on the Government Printing Office website here, or read it on our site here:

NOTE: Contrary to a good deal of misinformation spread widely across the internet, the Craig-Frist Ammo Ban amendment (Sen.Amendt 2625) has not yet been voted on. During a vote on Thursday, C-SPAN's said the Craig-Frist AP ammo ban was being voted on when in fact a different Craig-Frist amendment (Sen.Amendt 2628) was being voted on.