Press release: Indiana Attorney General Joins Lawsuit Against Federal Government to Assure Civilians Can Purchase Ammunition

The following was sent to the Bloomingtonian last week:

Attorney General Todd Rokita leads fight to protect civilian access to ammunition 

Attorney General Todd Rokita this week led several states in defending Second Amendment liberties against radical efforts to restrict civilian access to legally manufactured ammunition. 

“The right to keep and bear arms is foundational to protecting all the rest of our liberties from the long arm of government overreach,” Attorney General Rokita said. “Regular law-abiding Hoosiers know that our office will fight to defend this right to our last breath.” 

On Jan. 9, 2024 Democratic attorneys general sent a letter to the White House demanding an “investigation” into a specific ammunition manufacturer — Lake City Army Ammunition Plant — in order “to ensure that military-grade and military-subsidized ammunition stays out of civilian hands.” 

If the U.S. military using ammunition precluded that ammunition’s use by civilians, however, then other widely and commonly available ammunition — including 9mm and 12-gauge shotshells — would also be prohibited for public use. 

“A tyrant’s tactic is to chip away at liberties little by little,” Attorney General Rokita said. “Americans cannot exercise their constitutionally protected right to use their firearms without access to ammunition. That’s why we’re taking a strong stand.” 

In their own letter to the White House, Attorney General Rokita and several joining states pledged “to take any and every action necessary to defend our citizens’ Second Amendment rights.” Perpetrators of gun violence should be punished—not the firearm and ammunition manufacturers. 

“The anti-gun radicals leading this effort are not interested in public safety, “Attorney General Rokita said. “We should be focused on the free flow of illegal weapons coming across our border – not taking aim at law abiding patriots” Attorney General Rokita said. “The federal government’s failure to secure our border and protect Americans is exactly why citizens need the liberty to defend themselves.” 

There is an additional and important benefit to protecting civilian access to this company’s products. By keeping this military contractor and its 1,700 workers operating at maximum capacity, the civilian law-abiding gun owners who buy Lake City ammunition are subsidizing national defense and military readiness. 

“The geopolitical threats to America’s national security have never been greater,” Attorney General Rokita said. “Rather than penalize the law-abiding civilian gun owners doing business with military contractors, we should give them medals.” 

Attorney General Rokita’s letter is attached. 

A headshot of Attorney General Rokita is available for download. 

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Letter:

January 24, 2024
The Honorable Joseph R. Biden
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Stefanie Feldman
Director, White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Biden and Director Feldman:
We, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, and Montana, and the undersigned States of Alabama, Alaska,
Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, New
Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas,
Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming, and the North Carolina House of Representatives, write
to express sincere concerns with our Democrat colleagues’ letter dated January 9, 2024, concerning
Lake City Army Ammunition Plant (“Lake City”). The United States Supreme Court stated
definitively that the Second Amendment guarantees a personal right to each law-abiding citizen to
“keep and bear arms.”1 But Americans cannot exercise this constitutionally protected right to use
their firearms without access to ammunition. If your office does what the Democrat attorneys
general ask, then ammunition prices will increase, and ammunition availability will decrease. And
those restrictions on ammunition will not resolve any of the ills discussed by our colleagues. Those
attorneys general wrote to you casting aspersions and requesting an investigation of Lake City
because they allege that the plant’s commercial ammunition was used in mass shootings. Perhaps
those States should focus more on prosecuting crime to stop mass shootings—rather than trying to
stop lawful Americans’ use of guns and ammunition. Their tactic is an overt attempt to punish
Americans’ exercise of their Second Amendment rights. The undersigned States take an
unapologetic stand to defend the Second Amendment and to set the record straight as to the facts.
The Democrats’ letter contains a litany of errors. These errors demonstrate our colleagues’
outright ignorance of firearms and ammunition. Chiefly, they allege that ammunition
manufactured for “military use” does not belong in our communities. First, the ammunition
manufactured at Lake City and sold into the commercial market is not the primary rifle cartridge
used by the United States military. The primary cartridge is proprietary to the Army and may not
1 District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008).
2
be sold commercially. Second, while the United States military purchases and uses a particular
type of ammunition, that is not determinative as to whether it is “military ammunition” that should
be banned for public use. If the United States military using ammunition precluded that
ammunition’s use by civilians, then other widely and commonly available ammunition, including
9mm and 12-gauge shotshells, would also be prohibited for public use. Indeed, Heller does not
support such an openly artificial distinction.2 Lake City only sells ammunition to commercial
customers that is legal to manufacture. Lake City complies with all the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (“ATF”) requirements.
Gun control advocates are firing blanks when they contend that taxpayers are subsidizing
mass shooters. They get causality backward. The law-abiding target shooters and gun owners who
buy Lake City ammunition are subsidizing national defense and military readiness. Indeed, Lake
City is not the sole source of any of the types of ammunition manufactured and sold commercially.
Several other U.S. ammunition manufacturers make and sell the same types of ammunition for
civilian use. That ammunition is also imported into the U.S. by foreign manufacturers. If gun
control proponents’ goal is to cut off the civilian ammunition supply, ending commercial sales
from Lake City will not achieve their objective. But it will undermine national security and result
in an increase of reliance on foreign-made ammunition—to the detriment of U.S. manufacturers.
Our country needs to prioritize military readiness. Our military must be focused on
ensuring that it is the most lethal and prepared in the world. The Department of Defense has long
included a section in the Lake City operating contract to allow for the commercial use of the
facility. That is for the express purpose of supporting military readiness. DOD implemented that
contract section because at the onset of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan the Lake City arsenal was
unable to meet the U.S. military’s needs. That section in the Lake City contract was—and
remains—a sound policy choice. As we confront an increasingly dangerous world with
unpredictable adversaries, now is not the time to undermine our military readiness.
This is not the first time that gun control advocates have targeted Lake City. In 2015, the
federal government sought to choke off the supply of M855 ammunition. ATF attempted to set
arbitrary guidelines for determining whether certain ammunition met the 1986 Law Enforcement
Officer Protection Act’s “sporting purposes” exemption.3 That would have drastically limited
access to rifle ammunition used for activities like target shooting and hunting. After ATF’s
misguided attempt elicited massive outrage, the Obama Administration revoked its attempted ban.
Lake City cannot halt commercial use without a detrimental loss to our communities and
economy. If stopped, it will result in an estimated loss of 500–700 jobs or 30%–45% of the skilled
workforce now employed at Lake City and countless more throughout the supply chain.4 In
Missouri, the 3,935 acres Lake City Army Ammunition Plant is the largest producer of small arms
2 Id. at 582.
3 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Armor Piercing Ammunition Exemption Framework
(February 27, 2015), https://www.atf.gov/news/pr/armor-piercing-ammunition-exemption-framework.
4 Stephen Gutowski, Winchester, NSSF Say Biden Admin Aiming to Cut Off Sizable Chunk of Civilian AR-15 Ammo
Supply, THE RELOAD (June 16, 2022), https://thereload.com/winchester-nssf-claim-biden-admin-aiming-to-cut-
off-sizable-chunk-of-civilian-ar-15-ammo-supply.
3
ammunition reportedly producing over one billion rounds of ammunition per year and employing
approximately 1,700 workers.5
DOD sought to avoid a situation when the military needs surge due to a real-world conflict,
ammunition is not readily available. Ammunition availability requires facilities, production
equipment, a skilled workforce, and supply chains to remain in constant operation. Machines and
production cannot be turned on like the flip of a switch. It takes time to hire and train the highly
skilled workers needed to operate production lines to manufacture the highest quality ammunition
for U.S. warfighters. Commercial production has allowed Lake City, and its suppliers, to maintain
steady labor, maximize equipment run time, ensure a stable supply base, and provide a level of
readiness to the U.S. military that would not otherwise be available.
Do not be fooled. The anti-gun radicals leading this effort are not honest brokers interested
in public safety. This is part of an ongoing, and constitutionally dubious agenda to stop commercial
ammunition sales in order to weaken the Second Amendment. Gun control advocates want to
criminalize making ammunition even while many push back against prosecuting criminals that fire
weapons. Perpetrators of gun violence should be punished—not the firearm and ammunition
manufacturers. It is for that reason, when crime too often goes unchecked and mass shootings are
on the rise, law-abiding citizens need the ability to arm themselves with effective weapons.
We live in volatile times. Our country needs to be prepared to face foreign adversaries
rather than focusing on destroying the Second Amendment and crippling the firearm and
ammunition market. We need to be primed at any moment to increase production and provide our
military with much-needed ammunition to provide protection domestically and to our international
allies. Lake City remains a vital part of the past, present, and future of the U.S. Military and
military readiness. Rather than pushing Lake City out of business, we should be thanking them for
the role they play in arming our military.
We strongly advise against heeding the Democrat attorneys general request to investigate
Lake City. There are no allegations of wrongdoing that could justify placing such unreasonable
limits on Lake City or any other firearm, parts, or ammunition manufacturer. If this course
continues, we intend to take any and every action necessary to defend our citizens’ Second
Amendment rights.
Sincerely,
Todd Rokita
Attorney General of Indiana Brenna Bird
Attorney General of Iowa
5 Press Release, Senator Sam Graves, Graves Secures Funding to Save 500+ Jobs at Lake City Army Ammunition
Plant in House Bill (March 10, 2022), https://graves.house.gov/media/press-releases/graves-secures-funding-save-
500-jobs-lake-city-army-ammunition-plant-
house#:~:text=The%20funding%20will%20help%20preserve,Missouri’s%206th%20Congressional%20District.
4
Andrew Bailey
Attorney General of Missouri Austin Knudsen
Attorney General of Montana
Steve Marshall
Attorney General of Alabama
Treg Taylor
Attorney General of Alaska
Tim Griffin
Attorney General of Arkansas
Ashley Moody
Attorney General of Florida
Christopher M. Carr
Attorney General of Georgia
Raúl Labrador
Attorney General of Idaho
Kris Kobach
Attorney General of Kansas Russell Coleman
Attorney General of Kentucky
Liz Murrill
Attorney General of Louisiana
Lynn Fitch
Attorney General of Mississippi
Mike Hilgers
Attorney General of Nebraska
John Formella
Attorney General of New Hampshire
5
Drew Wrigley
Attorney General of North Dakota
Dave Yost
Attorney General of Ohio
Gentner Drummond
Attorney General of Oklahoma Alan Wilson
Attorney General of South Carolina
Marty Jackley
Attorney General of South Dakota Jonathan Skrmetti
Attorney General of Tennessee
Ken Paxton
Attorney General of Texas Sean Reyes
Attorney General of Utah
Jason Miyares
Attorney General of Virginia
Patrick Morrisey
Attorney General of West Virginia
Bridget Hill
Attorney General of Wyoming
Speaker Tim Moore
North Carolina House of Representatives


Some ammo that Lake City produces:

  • 5.56x45mm NATO: This cartridge is one of the most commonly produced ammunition at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant. NATO forces and other military organizations worldwide widely use it.
  • 7.62x51mm NATO: This is a powerful rifle cartridge used in various military weapons. Its production at Lake City ensures a steady supply for the U.S. military and allied forces.
  • .50 BMG: The .50 Browning Machine Gun is a heavy machine gun cartridge produced exclusively at Lake City.
  • .338 Lapua Magnum: Known for its long-range precision, the .338 Lapua Magnum is a favored choice among snipers. 
  • .300 Winchester Magnum: This is a popular round for big game hunting and long-range shooting. Lake City produces .300 Winchester Magnum ammo for military applications.
  • .223 Remington: Similar to the 5.56x45mm NATO, the .223 Remington often appears in civilian and law enforcement applications. Lake City produces this cartridge in significant quantities. 
  • 6.8mm Remington SPC: Developed to improve the performance of the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge. The military uses the 6.8mm Remington produced at the Lake City facility.

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