[News] GOP calls on Biden to end consideration of ban on commercial AR-15 ammo at Missouri plant

Fifty House Republicans on Monday signed a letter urging President Biden to end consideration of banning commercial production of certain types of ammunition at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Missouri.

The factory, owned by the Department of Defense, has allowed private contractors over the years to operate the plant and produce 5.56mm ammunition, which is used in AR-15 semiautomatic firearms, for commercial sales that exceed U.S. military needs.

The letter, spearheaded by Reps. Vicki Hartzler and Sam Graves of Missouri, said the Biden administration is trying to circumvent Congress by banning ammunition for the popular firearm.

“Severely limiting the commercially available 5.56 ammunition, which is most popularly used in modern sporting rifles (MSRs), is effectively a politically sanctioned semi-automatic rifle ban. This blatantly infringes on the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution by limiting law-abiding gun owners’ ability to legally purchase or use lawful semi-automatic rifles,” the members wrote to Mr. Biden.

The lawmakers wrote that the plant “currently produces a significant portion of this type of 5.56mm ammunition for the commercial market” and allows the operating contractor to maintain capacity and keep the facility at a high state of readiness, at no cost to the government.

Additionally the factory ensures that “the Army is ready to ramp up production in the event of a national emergency.”

The members also said the ammunition production ban “will compromise Army readiness by further delaying the deployment of the Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW).”

“This decision will result in the immediate termination of up to 500 highly skilled employees and undermine the facility’s ability to hire and retain the skilled workforce needed to carry out the contract with the Department of Defense,” they wrote.

“Additionally, the decision will exacerbate an already serious shortage of ammunition in the commercial market currently facing law-abiding gun owners. Severely limiting the commercially available 5.56mm ammunition, which is most popularly used in modern sporting rifles (MSRs), is effectively a politically sanctioned semi-automatic rifle ban.”

Winchester Repeating Arms Co. is the private contractor that produces the ammunition at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant.

Winchester notified the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) last Wednesday that the Defense Department was considering prohibiting the production of 5.56mm ammunition at the plant.

The Washington Times has reached out to the Army and the White House for comment.

A White House spokesman last week reportedly denied that the administration was planning to ban production of the ammunition.

NSSF General Counsel Larry Keane said he does not believe the administration is backing off just yet. He noted that the Obama administration attempted to ban the ammunition produced at the Lake City Plant in 2015.

“My understanding was there was an internal discussion at DOD … about this issue towards the end of last week. But as of now, we have not heard anything definitive that they are not going to do this now,” Mr. Keane said.

“The Obama ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] tried to declare the ammunition coming out of Lake City to be armor piercing. It is not by definition, armor piercing ammunition, which is a defined term in the Gun Control Act,” said Mr. Keane.

“They received over 300,000 comments from folks as well as in the industry. They very quickly backed off under congressional pressure as well as just general consumer political pressure. Here we are seven years later. They can’t declare it illegal, so now they want to make it unavailable,” he said.

Mr. Keane said that the Senate gun control legislation could fail if the Biden administration goes forward with an ammunition production ban at Lake City.

“I think it’s recognized that doing this would be very detrimental to any ongoing Senate discussions about reaching some sort of framework agreement, or moving forward with that framework,” he said.

The Washington Times has learned that Sen. Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, raised concerns and objections about the issue to the White House.

Mr. Blunt is one of the 10 GOP senators hammering out gun control legislation.

The Washington Times has reached out to Mr. Blunt’s office for comment.

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