HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Green tip ammunition is under fire right now for its ability to not only pierce body armor, but the fact that it can be fired from handguns.
The same green tip bullet magazines made for AR-15 rifles can be put into a pistol, which is considered concealable. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said that poses a greater risk to police officers in the field.
The bullets were previously exempt from the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act, which was passed in 1986, making ammunition that puncture protective vests when put into a handgun illegal. The green tip bullets had an exemption from this act because they were intended for sporting purposes.
The ATF is now trying to change the definition for exemptions to make it illegal to manufacture certain types of green tip bullets, so they don't end up in concealable guns.
Robert Battista, owner of 707 Gun Shop, said the green tip bullets are inexpensive and shoot straighter.
"A lot of people actually prefer to shoot that ammo in their target rifles," he said.
He said his customers who buy the green tip ammunition are usually limited. That was until the announcement about a possible ban was made and all of Battista's distributors sold out of the bullet within four hours.
"I think it is a ludicrous law because even a non-armor piercing round can penetrate a bullet-resistant vest," he said.
Horry County Police Lieutenant Raul Denis said it's true the body armor doesn't protect against certain caliber bullets, even those that aren't green tip. But he said police would still be safer without the green tip bullets on the streets.
"There are plenty of videos out there of people shooting steel plates that are a quarter-inch thick with these little rounds and making big holes in them," Lt. Denis said. "There's nothing that we could give an officer that could protect them from that caliber fire."
Anyone can give ATF their feedback on the proposal at APAComments@atf.gov, by fax at (202) 648-9741 or mail Denise Brown, Mailstop 6N-602, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 99 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20226: ATTN: AP Ammo Comments.