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Why is it a crime to carry armor-piercing bullets?

On Behalf of | Dec 28, 2023 | Criminal Defense, Violent Crimes

Pennsylvania might not require residents to have a firearm license, but each gun owner is expected to exercise caution and abide by the state’s strict rules.

However, some individuals might bring firearms when committing a criminal offense. This in itself is a crime, and many offenses – such as robbery – can have enhanced penalties if the offender has a gun.

But if the offender also happened to have armor-piercing (AP) bullets while committing a violent crime, the state can separately charge the person for this fact. Why is it a crime to have AP bullets, and what are the penalties for conviction?

AP bullets endanger everyone

Federal law prohibits the import, manufacture and distribution of AP bullets in the U.S., which is why individual states like Pennsylvania have similar laws. However, the deeper reason for their ban lies in the danger these bullets pose for law enforcement officers, first responders, and the public.

AP bullets can penetrate ballistic armor and shields – equipment typically used by the police. These bullets can cause severe injuries and death, and their use can escalate situations and make them more difficult to resolve.

State law on AP bullets

According to Pennsylvania law, it’s illegal for anyone to possess, use or attempt to use any AP bullet while committing or attempting to commit a violent crime, such as assault, robbery, gang violence and hate crimes.

This offense is a felony of the third degree. On conviction, the person faces not less than five years of prison. By law, the convicted person is also ineligible for parole, and the court can’t suspend this sentence. The convicted person must serve this sentence alongside any other penalty for committing a violent crime.

Notably, the law punishes even offenders who never shot any AP bullets during their criminal offense. The mere possession of the bullets while committing a violent crime is enough to trigger a charge.

AP bullets are dangerous and highly illegal. Even the most responsible firearm enthusiasts put themselves at risk by purchasing these prohibited ammunition. If you face related charges, know that you don’t have to face them alone. Consult a legal professional who can provide you with guidance in your case.

Pennsylvania Drunk Driving Defense: Law, Tactics, and Procedure | by Patrick F. Lauer, Jr. | Revere Legal Publishers