Every GOP Attorney General Warns Biden Admin Ministry of Gun Control Against Cutting Off Lake City Commercial Ammo

Every single Republican state attorney general sent the same message to President Joe Biden and his Office of Gun Violence Prevention. Don’t degrade military readiness or think about using Lake City Army Ammunition Plant as a pawn in their gun control game.

The Republican attorneys general wrote in response to a letter sent by Democratic attorneys general asking the administration to shut off sales of surplus ammunition to U.S. retail ammunition purchasers.

The Republican attorneys general warned that any notion of halting commercial ammunition sales would have profound detrimental effects on military readiness and reminded the Biden administration that should it act on that suggestion, it would be seen as “an overt attempt to punish Americans’ exercise of their Second Amendment rights.”

That letter was signed by all 28 Republican state attorneys general. Every. Single. One.

False Claims

The idea was first floated by The New York Times, which published an article alleging that horrific crimes carried out by deranged individuals was made possible because some of these murderers criminally misused ammunition produced at the Lake City facility. New York’s Democratic state Attorney General Letitia James led 19 other Democratic state attorneys general in a letter demanding the Biden administration review the policy that allows for excess ammunition produced at Lake City to be sold to the public.

The Democratic attorneys general letter was unsurprisingly short on facts but long on false assumptions. First, they falsely claim that 5.56 mm ammunition is for military use only. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) gave a sporting-exemption for 5.56 mm/.223 caliber ammunition because it is commonly used in shooting sports. That ammunition is used daily by owners of more than 28 million Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs) for lawful purposes including recreational target shooting, hunting and self-defense.

Second, General James falsely claims that 5.56 mm ammunition is “subsidized” by taxpayer dollars for private parties. That’s flat-out wrong. In fact, it’s a complete misrepresentation of the facts.

It is the commercial utilization of the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant since 2001 that allows the plant to remain at peak readiness. The Defense Department contract requires a portion of the proceeds of those sales to be reinvested in maintenance of plant and equipment and maintaining a skilled unionized labor force to allow production to surge during times of conflict and war without costing taxpayers more to ramp up production.

A Matter of Fact

The Republican attorneys general led by Generals Todd Rokita (Ind.), Austin Knudsen (Mont.), Brenna Bird (Iowa) and Andrew Bailey (Mo.) didn’t let any of the false rhetoric slide.

“The Democrats’ letter contains a litany of errors,” wrote the Republican attorneys general. “These errors demonstrate our colleagues’ outright ignorance of firearms and ammunition.”

Republican attorneys general pointed out that the primary ammunition used by the U.S. Army is, in fact, the M855A1 – a cartridge that is proprietary to the U.S. Army that can’t be and isn’t sold to the public. They also noted that just because the U.S. military uses a particular cartridge, doesn’t mean it isn’t also used by the public. That’s true of .30-06, 9 mm and 12-gauge ammunition, among others.

“Gun control advocates are firing blanks when they contend that taxpayers are subsidizing mass shooters,” the Republican attorneys general explained. “They get causality backward. The law-abiding target shooters and gun owners who buy Lake City ammunition are subsidizing national defense and military readiness.”

They added, “But it will undermine national security and result in an increase of reliance on foreign-made ammunition—to the detriment of U.S. manufacturers.”

The Republican attorneys general explained to The White House that it was the Department of Defense (DOD) that realized that, at the outset of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Lake City facility couldn’t meet the production demands. Equipment was mothballed and the labor force wasn’t sufficient.

To ensure this would never happen again, beginning in 2001 the DOD permitted the commercial utilization of Lake City so the plant would always be able to respond immediately to a surge in military demand and to require a portion of the proceeds from the commercial sales be reinvested in the plant. Despite what General James alleges, it is the civilian market that is subsidizing Lake City’s ability to keep the U.S. military supplied with their ammunition needs.

The Real Agenda

“Do not be fooled. The anti-gun radicals leading this effort are not honest brokers interested in public safety,” the Republican attorneys general warned.

The Republican attorneys general pointed out that many of those Democratic attorneys general also hold soft-on-crime policies that do little-to-nothing to hold criminals accountable. They punish law-abiding citizens by attacking their rights and refuse to go after criminals that prey on the innocent in their states.

“This is part of an ongoing, and constitutionally dubious agenda to stop commercial ammunition sales in order to weaken the Second Amendment. Gun control advocates want to criminalize making ammunition even while many push back against prosecuting criminals that fire weapons,” the Republican attorneys general wrote. “Perpetrators of gun violence should be punished—not the firearm and ammunition manufacturers. It is for that reason, when crime too often goes unchecked and mass shootings are on the rise, law-abiding citizens need the ability to arm themselves with effective weapons.”


Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

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