Congressional Republicans are firing back at the Obama administration over a controversial bullet ban proposal that they say would infringe on the Second Amendment.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) proposed last month to ban a popular armor-piercing bullet commonly used in AR-15 hunting rifles, angering Republicans and gun rights groups.
“Second Amendment rights require not only access to firearms, but to bullets,” a group of 53 Republican senators wrote Monday in a letter to ATF Director B. Todd Jones.
The only Senate Republican not on the letter was Mark KirkMark KirkGOP senator: Don't link Planned Parenthood to ObamaCare repeal Republicans add three to Banking Committee Juan Williams: McConnell won big by blocking Obama MORE (Ill.), who is facing a tough reelection fight in blue-leaning Illinois.
The National Rifle Association's top lobbyist called the proposed bullet ban an "unconstitutional attack on our Second Amendment freedoms" and praised the message for Senate Republicans.
“This letter sends a clear message to President Obama that Congress strongly opposes his attempt to use his pen and phone to thwart the will of the American people and impose gun control,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.
The letter is just the latest expression of congressional opposition to the ATF’s proposed bullet ban. Republican majorities in both chambers have come out strongly against it.
Last week, hundreds of House Republicans sent a similar letter to the agency demanding it “abandon” the rule.
“Under no circumstances should ATF adopt a standard that will ban ammunition that is overwhelmingly used by law-abiding Americans for legitimate purposes,” the House lawmakers wrote.
Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) has introduced the Protecting Second Amendment Rights Act, which aims to roll back the ATF’s authority to regulate ammunition.
Another piece of legislation from Rep. Jim SensenbrennerJames SensenbrennerHouse group seeks alternatives on encryption fight Congress should learn from states on civil asset forfeiture GOP rep presses Trump to meet with Dalai Lama MORE (R-Wis.) would abolish the ATF altogether.
Republicans hope their strong showing of opposition in both chambers will convince the ATF to pull back the proposal.
The ATF argues the proposed bullet ban would protect police officers. While the bullets have traditionally been used by hunters and sportsmen in AR-15 rifles, they can now be used in certain handguns, giving criminals easier access to these potentially deadly weapons.
An ATF spokesperson said the proposed bullet ban would not stop hunters from using AR-15s, because there are 168 other types of bullets that can be used in that rifle.
“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,” the ATF said.
— Updated at 1:40 p.m. on March 10.