The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is dropping a plan to ban a type of bullets after what it said was significant negative feedback during the public comment period.
The ATF proposed reclassifying M855 ball ammunition as “armor piercing ammunition” under the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act of 1986.
In a letter last week to ATF Director B. Todd Jones, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said they were concerned that the proposal “reverses decades of ATF precedent” and “is beyond the statutory authority of the ATF and is contrary to the very clear intent of legislation passed by Congress.”
The lawmakers charged that the proposal “will substantially harm consumers and will have a negligible (if any) positive affect on officer safety—the Congressionally-intended goals of GCA and LEOPA.”
“ATF should act immediately to reverse course and rescind this rule which clearly violates Americans’ Second Amendment rights,” they added. “…The stated purpose of the LEOPA changes to the Gun Control Act are to protect law enforcement officers from the threat of easily-concealed handguns firing rounds capable of overcoming their bullet proof vests. There’s no evidence that a law enforcement officer has ever been fired upon by an AR-15 ‘pistol’ shooting the M855 round. This reversal of long-standing precedent seems to be a vindictive attempt to attack users of the most popular sporting rifle in the United States: the AR-15 series of firearms. This is nothing more than an overreaching attempt at expanding gun control. Therefore, we strongly urge the ATF to scrap this heavy-handed and misguided effort.”
The ATF said it received more than 80,000 comments on the proposal, with the comment closing date set for March 16.
“Although ATF endeavored to create a proposal that reflected a good faith interpretation of the law and balanced the interests of law enforcement, industry, and sportsmen, the vast majority of the comments received to date are critical of the framework, and include issues that deserve further study,” the bureau said in a statement. “Accordingly, ATF will not at this time seek to issue a final framework. After the close of the comment period, ATF will process the comments received, further evaluate the issues raised therein, and provide additional open and transparent process (for example, through additional proposals and opportunities for comment) before proceeding with any framework.”
Scalise called it “a great victory for the 2nd Amendment that President Obama and his liberal lieutenants at the ATF reversed themselves at our strong urging and halted their attempt to infringe upon the hard-fought rights of the American people.”
“We fought the Obama Administration on their attempted ammunition grab, and they finally backed down,” he said. “The administration’s continued attempts to circumvent Congress in order to implement radical regulations is unacceptable, especially when their efforts trample on the freedoms guaranteed to all Americans by the Bill of Rights, and we will continue to fight any future actions just as we were successful in fighting this latest attempt.”
But Connecticut Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D) and Chris Murphy (D) said in a joint statement that they’re “troubled and disappointed that the ATF succumbed to pressure from gun groups and abandoned critical efforts to keep police safe from armor-piercing bullets.”
“Weapons that can penetrate bullet-proof vests pose a grave danger to law enforcement officers who dedicate their lives to protecting our communities, and they should not be made more readily available or easier to access,” the Dems said.