Gun rights bill would block ammunition regs

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New gun legislation would push back against a controversial policy from the Obama administration effectively banning armor-piercing ammunition.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) proposed last week to prohibit gun companies from manufacturing and selling 5.56mm projectiles for M855 cartridges that provide ammunition for AR-15 rifles. 

But the move is causing an uproar among Republicans, who suggest it would trample on hunters’ Second Amendment rights.

The Protecting Second Amendment Rights Act, introduced Friday by Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), would roll back the ATF’s power to regulate ammunition.

“The Obama administration’s proposal would unilaterally strip law-abiding hunters and sportsmen of their Second Amendment rights,” Rooney said in a statement. “Congress has made its intentions clear that this ammunition is for sporting purposes and should not be restricted. We cannot and we will not stand by while the Obama administration tramples on the Constitution, the rule of law, and the Second Amendment rights of hunters.”

AR-15 rifles are popular with some hunters, but they provide a big cause for concern for law enforcement officials because they can fire bullets to penetrate bullet-proof vests. 

To date, the ammunition for AR-15s has been exempt from the Law Enforcement Officers Act, but the ATF’s draft framework would change that.

“No final determinations have been made and we won’t make any determinations until we’ve reviewed the comments submitted by industry, law enforcement and the public at large,” ATF spokesman Corey Ray told The Hill last week.

But Republicans are looking to pre-empt the ammunition restrictions. The Protecting Second Amendment Rights Act would "would prohibit the ATF or any other federal agency from issuing or enforcing any new restriction or prohibition on the manufacture, importation or sale of ammunition in the United States."