White House press secretary Josh Earnest Monday defended a proposal by the Obama administration to ban ammunition commonly used with the AR-15 rifle, saying the push to prohibit the bullets is a "common-sense" way to protect law enforcement officials.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives last week proposed to ban 5.56 mm (.223) M855 "lightgreen tip" ammunition, arguing it could pierce bulletproof vests used by law enforcement officials.
Though the administration cites public safety reasons, critics are accusing the White House of attempting to go around Congress after it was unable to secure the passage of gun control legislation.
"It's open now for public comment," Earnest said of the ATF proposal.
"We are looking at additional ways to protect our brave men and women in law enforcement and believe this process is valuable for that reason alone," Obama's top spokesman added. "This seems to be an area where everyone should agree: If there are armor-piercing bullets available that can fit into easily concealed weapons, that puts our law enforcement at considerably more risk. I'd put this in the category of common-sense steps our government can take."
In 2013, Obama was unable to build legislative support for an assault weapons ban, prohibition on high-capacity ammunition clips or even expanded background checks.
With Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress, the White House has abandoned any efforts to resurrect such legislation.
The ATF says the proposal is still under consideration.