Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY) has a passionate desire to ban the FN Herstal Five-seveN pistol, and the FN 5.7x28mm cartridge it fires. Early this month, he introduced H.R. 538, the "Protect Law Enforcement Armor ('PLEA') Act." This, though, is only his latest attempt. He has introduced identical legislation once per legislative session for most of the past decade: H.R. 1136 in 2005 (with rabidly anti-gun Senator Frank Lautenberg introducing a Senate companion bill, S. 527, the same year), H.R. 1784 in 2007, H.R. 6030 in 2010 and H.R. 6685 in 2012.
As St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner observed back in 2009, the ostensible justification for this ban is the supposed ability of the gun (or, more accurately, the ammunition it fires) to defeat police body armor. This is claimed to be a problem despite the fact that the purpose-designed "armor piercing" ammunition, with an aluminum core and a steel penetrator, is already illegal for private citizens, and the fact that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has determined that no commercially available 5.7x28mm round is capable of penetrating standard Level IIIa body armor.
Engel's strategy for getting around that little objection (and the fact that in all this time, there seems not to have been one law enforcement officer in the U.S. killed by a 5.7x28mm round fired through his body armor) is to set the bar determining what constitutes "armor piercing" much lower--Level IIa armor, which is two levels lighter, and can be penetrated by even some widely available 9mm +P rounds.
Additionally, his legislation would order the attorney general to cast a wide dragnet to sweep up any other "armor piercing" handgun ammunition, and the guns that fire it:
(b) Determination of Capability of Projectiles To Penetrate Body Armor- Section 926 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
`(d)(1) Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this subsection, the Attorney General shall promulgate standards for the uniform testing of projectiles against Body Armor Exemplar.
`(2) The standards promulgated pursuant to paragraph (1) shall take into account, among other factors, variations in performance that are related to the type of handgun used, the length of the barrel of the handgun, the amount and kind of powder used to propel the projectile, and the design of the projectile.
`(3) As used in paragraph (1), the term `Body Armor Exemplar' means body armor that the Attorney General determines meets minimum standards for the protection of law enforcement officers.'.
Clearly, Engel will be hoping that the "Body Armor Exemplar" standard chosen by the Attorney General will be the light Level IIa armor, which can be defeated by the ammunition fired by a great many handguns that have been popular for decades (notice that the the "Exemplar" armor is to meet the minimum standards of protection). With a gun-hating Attorney General like Eric Holder (who has long advocated new legislation banning so-called "cop killer" bullets) in office, Engel can probably count on that. In other words, the FN Five-seveN is far from the only gun Engel intends to ban.
Additionally, when looking at the text of the bill, the only exemptions are the government's hired muscle (law enforcement and military), manufacturers (making it for said government muscle), and those doing the testing to determine if the gun or ammunition in question is yet another "cop killer." No "grandfather clause," in other words. If you own a Five-seveN, or ammo for it, or if you own any of the scores of millions of other handguns that can defeat Level IIa armor, you are a felon, unless you surrender them. There is not even any provision for compensation.
Remember that at the same time this is going on, U.S. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) wants to ban body armor for private citizens (with the support of the Violence Policy Center, and with U.S. News and World Report referring to legal body armor for citizens as "the other loophole"). If the forcible citizen disarmament fanatics in Congress get their way, we the people are to be kept at a severe disadvantage on both ends of the offense/defense tug-of-war.
Now granted, H.R. 538 has right around a zero percent chance of becoming law. It has so far garnered exactly zero cosponsors, and the most cosponsors any iteration of Engel's "PLEA Act" has ever managed was 22, and that was the first time he introduced it, in 2005.
The point is not the infinitesimal danger that this abomination will ever pass, but that a long-serving (if Engel's oath-breaking abuses of power can be considered "service") member of Congress has the audacity to even try to confiscate citizens' legally obtained property, with no apparent fear of at least tar and feathers.
No "slippery slope" toward all-out gun confiscation? Wrong. Most of the gun banners just hide the end-game agenda better than Engel does.
- 'Cop-killer' bullets, body armor, and state-mandated defenselessness
- The FN Herstal Five-seveN pistol: Gun control's new whipping boy
- California police demand helpless targets
- California 'authorities' continue to push for body armor ban
- Federal court upholds felon body armor ban
- When evil is armored: Armor-piercing ammo bans kill
- If ammo needs a 'sporting purpose,' slaying aspiring tyrants must be a 'sport'
- Parents buying body armor for children, Sen. Durbin wants that outlawed