Upwards of 30 percent of the current civilian 5.56 NATO ammunition market could disappear if President Joe Biden (D.) gets his way.
That’s the warning from one of the nation’s top ammo makers and the gun industry’s trade group. Winchester Ammunition and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) told The Reload that the Biden Administration wants to shut off overflow production of the rounds commonly used in AR-15 rifles. Those rounds are sold to American civilians and comprise a sizeable portion of the current market.
“NSSF has been in contact with officials at Winchester Ammunition regarding the Biden administration’s consideration of halting sales of excess M855/SS109 ammunition,” Mark Oliva, an NSSF spokesman, told The Reload. “Winchester was informed that the government is considering restricting the manufacturing and commercial sale of legal ammunition produced at the Lake City, Mo., facility.”
If completed, the move would further drive up prices for the popular ammunition. The price hikes would likely last for years, given how difficult it has already been for civilian ammo makers to meet increased demand driven by the recent uptick in gun ownership.
The move could produce significant political fallout as well. If President Biden attempts to choke off a substantial supply of ammunition to the civilian market, it could upend the new and fragile bipartisan senate gun agreement. An aggressive, unprecedented gun-control maneuver could sow distrust as the negotiations enter a critical final stretch.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Oliva said the plan to reduce production at Lake City could also cost up to 500 jobs. He argued it could even harm military readiness.
“This policy to deny the sale of excess ammunition not only would freeze over 30 percent of the 5.56 mm/.223 caliber ammunition used by law-abiding gun owners, it risks the ammunition industry’s ability to surge production capacity for national defense if the costs to maintain the present workforce isn’t recouped through sales to the civilian market,” Oliva said.
He noted this is not the first time a Democratic administration has tried to cut off supply of M855, often called “green tip,” 5.56 ammunition to the civilian market. The Obama Administration attempted to ban the ammo through federal rulemaking in 2015 but failed.
“That maneuver was scuttled after gun owners and Congress cried foul on the regulatory overreach,” Oliva said. “This threat of restricting ammunition sales is another example of political agendas interfering with lawful commerce of law-abiding gun owners.”
Oliva said NSSF is working with members in both houses of Congress to block the policy. He said Winchester is talking with government officials “to ensure their full understanding of the negative implications” from shutting down excess production of the rounds.