ATF weighs ban on ammo for AR-15 rifle
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is cracking down on armor-piercing ammunition that’s currently allowed for sport, angering gun rights activists.
Under a draft framework manufacturers would be prohibited from producing and selling 5.56mm projectiles for M855 cartridges, which are used in AR-15s, one of the most popular rifles in America. The bullets are currently exempt from the Law Enforcement Officers Act (LEOPA).
“Millions upon millions of M855 rounds have been sold and used in the U.S., yet ATF has not even alleged – much less offered evidence – that even one such round has ever been fired from a handgun at a police officer,” NRA and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said in a joint letter, which will be sent ATF Director Todd Jones early next week.
LEOPA was passed in 1986 was created to protect police officers from armor-piercing projectiles – originally designed for law enforcement and military use – from being fired from handguns and penetrating the soft body armor worn by police officers.
“The idea that Congress intended LEOPA to ban one of the preeminent rifle cartridges in use by Americans for legitimate purposes is preposterous,” NRA said.
In an email, ATF Spokesman Corey Ray said the framework was developed to help guide determinations on what ammunition is intended to be primarily used for sport and to protect law enforcement, while also respecting the interests of sportsmen and the industry.
“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,” he said.
The public has until March 16 to comment.
On Fox News “The Kelly File” Thursday night, Goodlatte told host Shannon Bream that the administration is targeting gun control, specifically AR-15s, under the guise of protecting law enforcement officers.
“The president has tried to ban this rifle and the Congress has refused,” he said. “Now it appears he’s taking his pen and cell phone and through the ATF is trying to ban the second most popular ammunition that is used in that rifle and they’re doing it in a way that appears to violate the Administrative Procedures Act.”
The letter going to ATF next week, Goodlatte said has gained bi-partisan support.
“We expect to have way more than 100 signatories to it before it goes to the administration calling into question what they’re doing and pointing out that this is infringing on the rights of law abiding citizens and not going to have an effect on criminals.”