Dem looks to revive ATF bullet ban

A House Democrat is looking to revive a controversial bullet ban under the new leadership of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

In a letter first obtained by The Hill, Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) urges acting ATF Director Thomas Brandon to “act swiftly” to protect police officers from armor-piercing bullets. [READ THE LETTER BELOW.]

"In 2014 alone, 50 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty, a fact that underscores the necessity of the ATF to act swiftly to keep armor-piercing bullets that can be used in pistols off the streets,” Israel writes in the letter sent Tuesday.

Israel is requesting a meeting with the new ATF chief to discuss the stalled bullet ban.

Brandon took over this month after former ATF Director B. Todd Jones stepped down to pursue a career in the National Football League, following a failed attempt to prohibit certain armor-piercing bullets that are popular in AR-15 hunting rifles, but can also be used in handguns.

Republicans and the National Rifle Association warned the bullet ban would infringe on the Second Amendment right of hunters, who commonly use AR-15 rifles.

But gun safety advocates in Congress, including Israel, say these particular bullets present a grave danger to police officers, because they can also be used in more easily concealed handguns.

“The existing framework does not ensure that restrictions on armor-piercing technology keep up with new and rapidly developing firearm technology,” Israel wrote.

The fight began in February when the ATF proposed to ban 5.56mm projectiles for M855 cartridges commonly used in AR-15 rifles, but critics called it a backdoor attempt to render the high-powered gun useless.

Amid mounting political pressure, the ATF last month put the bullet ban on the back burner, but left the door open for future rule-making.

The National Rifle Association and Republicans claimed victory, but Democrats were furious with the ATF for not following through with the ban.

At the time, Israel said the ATF handled the bullet ban “sloppily.”

“This was sloppily handled and as a result the outcome was surprising, disappointing and even confusing,” Israel told The Hill. “I hope under the new leadership the ATF can have a more transparent and responsive process.”

A number of House Democrats, including Israel, wrote to then ATF Director Jones urging him to press ahead with the bullet ban, but to no avail.

Jones left the agency later that month.

With new leadership at the ATF, Israel is hoping he’ll have more luck convincing Brandon to move ahead with the bullet ban.

Rep. Steve Israel letter