A coalition of 20 state attorneys general led by New York Attorney General Letitia James sent a letter to the newly formed White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, urging it to investigate the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant and “take action to ensure that military-grade and military-subsidized ammunition stays out of civilian hands.”
The Lake City Army Ammunition Plant is a government-owned, contractor-operated facility that produces ammunition for the U.S. military. Since 2009, the Army has required that the factory keep its production capacity at around 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition per year. But the contractor — currently Olin Winchester — is permitted to sell to civilians any surplus ammunition that the military does not use, including .223 Remington, 5.56mm NATO, and 7.62mm NATO rounds for AR-platform weapons, and a recent New York Times investigation found that Lake-City-produced ammunition had been recovered in at least 12 mass shootings, including the Aurora, San Bernardino, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, Parkland, Buffalo, and Uvalde shootings.
(To learn more about the guns used or recovered in the country’s deadliest mass shootings, click here.)
DETAILS OF THE LETTER
In their letter, the attorneys general note that the “bullets used in this violence were subsidized by American taxpayers, as the federal government has apparently invested more than $860 million to improve [Lake City’s] production.”
According to the attorneys general “Ammunition from Lake City is manufactured for military use and does not belong in our communities,” but “[e]ven if military-grade ammunition were appropriate for the civilian market, its sale to private parties should not be subsidized by taxpayer dollars.”
The letter asks that the office “investigate the contracting and manufacturing practices that led to so many billions of military-grade rounds being sold into our communities, and to issue a public report with recommendations about how to end the diversion of military ammunition into civilian hands. In the long term, we ask the White House to ensure that future production contracts prohibit the sale of military weapons and ammunition to civilians.”
This request echoes a March 2023 executive order where President Biden directed “the Secretary of Defense to develop and implement principles to further firearm and public safety practices through Department of Defense acquisition of firearms, consistent with applicable law.”
The letter was signed by the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaili, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.