CBSN

Sen. Rand Paul: "Stop Obama's ammo ban"

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, addresses the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) February 27, 2015 in National Harbor, Maryland.

Alex Wong, Getty Images

As President Obama's administration mulls a proposal to ban armor-piercing "green tip" bullets, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is urging his supporters to help thwart the move, calling it a "backdoor route to imposing President Obama's gun control."

"Recently, Obama's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF) announced they will ban .223 M855 ammunition," Paul wrote in a letter posted to the website of his political action committee, RANDPAC. "The BATF has a March 17th deadline to hear public comments on this outrageous assault on the Second Amendment. And I'm counting on your immediate action to help RANDPAC flood the agency with a message from America's pro-gun majority."

The bullets in question were exempted from BATF's restrictions on armor-piercing bullets in 1986 under a determination that they were "primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes." Because the bullet can be used in a number of newer handguns, though, BATF announced last month that it would move to withdraw the exemption.

The agency has said the move is not a "final determination," giving the public 30 days to provide input on the proposal and saying it would make a decision "after considering those comments and making any appropriate adjustments."

The administration has backed the move, saying such armor-piercing bullets in handguns could endanger police. "This seems to be an area where everyone should agree: that if there are armor-piercing bullets available that can fit into easily concealed weapons, that it puts our law enforcement at considerably more risk," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said last week. "So I'd put this in the category of common-sense steps that the government can take to protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans while also making sure that our law enforcement officers who are walking the beat every day can do their jobs just a little bit more safely."

If the ban moves forward, BATF has said it will not criminalize possession of green-tip bullets, but it will prohibit their continued sale.

Gun rights advocates, though, are hoping to stop the ban before it goes into effect. Chris Cox, a top lobbyist with the National Rifle Association, wrote last week in a Washington Times op-ed that "Mr. Obama's latest missive has nothing to do with police or public safety. Rather, this is about a president who is desperate to enact his reckless gun control agenda before he leaves office."

Paul and Cox both urged supporters to speak out in opposition to the ban, recalling the successful 2013 blockade of Mr. Obama's proposal to strengthen the background check system for gun buyers.

"Your grassroots muscle played a vital role in defeating President Obama's national gun registration scheme in 2013," Paul wrote in his letter. "And your support is needed again to defend our Second Amendment rights in 2015."