During his routine Monday press conference, White House press secretary Josh Earnest deflected questions about the administrations involvement in a recent ATF push to ban common M855 ammunition by claiming that such a move was “common-sense” and that “everyone should agree” with steps that promote officer safety. In doing so, Earnest all but confirmed the President’s involvement with the ATF’s proposal, effectively rubber stamping the agency’s overstep by pushing precisely the same language that is featured in the proposal document. However, by invoking the tired “common sense” argument, Earnest essentially conceded that the administration does not possess a reasonable counterargument in the debate.
The phrase “common sense” has been used by anti-gun groups for years to push ever more ridiculous restrictions on peaceable gun owners. While the phrase is almost meaningless at this point, its use implies that anyone who disagrees with the anti-gun viewpoint must be unreasonable. This does not further the debate in any meaningful way, nor is it intended to do so. Such tactics serve a singular purpose, to marginalize gun owners and other opponents who might have the audacity to disagree with the administration. It is absolutely intended to be offensive to those of us who research and study these sorts of issues and is a weak effort to pressure us into submission. This is a divisive sort of approach that has no place in a reasoned debate.
Not only is “common sense” a weak substitute for a real argument, its use is even more absurd when the administration’s position is fundamentally flawed. I’ve covered this in my full response to the ATF proposal, but it bears repeating: M855 is not classified as armor piercing by the very military that developed it and all rifle rounds will penetrate soft police armor. These two points are absolute facts that cannot be refuted. Furthermore, M855 fails to meet either statutory definition for armor piercing ammunition. The logical end of this sort of thinking is nothing short of an outright ban on all rifle caliber ammunition. Saying that “common sense” dictates that M855 is armor piercing and should be banned is akin to saying it is “common sense” that the world is flat or that the sun revolves around Earth. It just is not based in fact and is ignorant at best, exploitative at worst.
Lastly, Earnest expressed that “everyone should agree” that armor piercing bullets “that can fit into easily concealed weapons” are a considerable risk for law enforcement. What the White House mouthpiece failed to mention is that the AR-15 pistols the administration seems so concerned about are absolutely huge compared to conventional handguns. Trying to conceal even the smallest AR pistol builds is like trying to hide an 18-inch laptop. No one is going to reasonably conceal such a firearm. Criminals with AR pistols the size of Alienware laptops stuffed in their waistbands are not a realistic threat to police. Earnest is exploiting public ignorance on this matter to advance the White House’s spiteful agenda and this too needs to stop.
Earnest’s condescension is not exactly surprising as we have seen this sort of baseless shaming from President Obama and his administration before. However the marginalization of gun owners who oppose such heavy handed tactics is absolutely offensive. It simply is not “common sense” to blindly support demonstrable falsehoods like those being pushed by the White House and ATF.