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Statement on Signing the Bill To Regulate Armor-Piercing Ammunition

August 28, 1986

It is a pleasure to be able to sign into law H.R. 3132 to ban the production or importation of the so-called cop-killer bullets, which pose an unreasonable threat to law enforcement officers who use soft body armor. This bill, similar to legislation jointly submitted to the Congress by the Departments of Justice and the Treasury in 1984, recognizes that certain forms of ammunition have no legitimate sporting, recreational, or self-defense use and thus should be prohibited. Such action is long overdue.

During the 61/2 years that I have served as President, I have sought to strengthen law enforcement in this nation and to do everything possible to protect the lives and safety of the dedicated men and women who constitute our first line of defense against the forces of lawlessness. I am pleased, therefore, to sign H.R. 3132 to ban armor-piercing ammunition as this legislation has long had the strong endorsement of our outstanding law enforcement organizations, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, National Sheriffs Association, Fraternal Order of Police, International Brotherhood of Police Officers, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, National Association of Police Organizations, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, National Black Police Association, National Troopers Coalition, International Union of Police Associations, Police Executive Research Forum, Police Foundation, Police Management Associations, and the Major City Chiefs.

In signing this bill, I want to urge those States and localities that have not acquired body armor for their law enforcement officers to obtain such lifesaving equipment for their officers. The use of soft body armor is credited with saving the lives of more than 600 officers since it was first introduced in the 1970's. An even more important message is the one I have for law enforcement officers: If you have access to soft body armor, please use it. Your lives and safety are too important to risk needlessly. The fabric used in modern soft body armor is truly a miracle fiber, but it is useless if left in the dressing room locker or the trunk of a squad car.

In signing H.R. 3132, I am giving our law enforcement officers my pledge to do everything possible to eliminate the hazard posed by armor-piercing ammunition. Those officers who in the past may have used the threat of armor-piercing bullets as a justification for failing to wear soft body armor should no longer have that excuse. We are doing our best at the Federal level to enhance the safety of police officers but must have the cooperation of the officers themselves to secure the full benefits of this important legislative action.

Note: H.R. 3132, approved August 28, was assigned Public Law No. 99-408.

Ronald Reagan, Statement on Signing the Bill To Regulate Armor-Piercing Ammunition Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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