Republicans are looking to shoot down any chance of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) reviving a controversial ban on certain types of armor-piercing ammunition and "put an end to this attack on our Second Amendment,” even as Democrats rally for more gun control measures.
The Ammunition and Firearms Protection Act introduced Monday by Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) would ensure that ammunition “intended, marketed, and sold for rifle use” is protected from the ATF’s grip.
Republicans accuse the ATF of thwarting the Second Amendment in a “backdoor” attempt to restrict the use of certain guns by banning popular ammunition.
McHenry called it an “assault on our Constitution and Bill of Rights.”
“The Ammunition and Firearms Protection Act would put an end to this attack on our Second Amendment by ensuring this popular ammunition used by countless law-abiding American sportsmen remains available and not subject to any future ATF bans,” McHenry said in a statement.
The ATF argued the proposed bullet ban would have protected police officers from bullets that were traditionally used in hunting rifles but can now also be used in handguns, which are more easily concealed; it backed down amid mounting pressure from Republicans and the gun lobby.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) called the ATF’s decision a “significant, but unfortunately temporary, victory for gun owners.”
“The Obama administration has made it clear that they will pursue an ammunition ban whenever they see an opportunity,” Chris Cox, the NRA’s top lobbyist, said in a statement
Democrats are urging the ATF to revive the bullet ban. A group of lawmakers will introduce new legislation later this week that would give the agency the authority to ban all forms of armor-piercing ammunition.
The ATF may have scrapped the plan last week so it could further “study” the issue, but Republicans fear it could bring the bullet ban back in the near future.
“They have still left open the possibility that it could be proposed again in the future and many Congressional Democrats have called for just that,” McHenry said.
— Updated at 6:57 p.m.