Late Monday afternoon, 52 Republican Senators sent a letter to ATF Director B. Todd Jones condemning the agency's latest proposal to ban commonly used AR-15 "green tip" ammunition and slammed the justification being used to do so, saying the legal framework under the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act (LEOPA) doesn't apply.
"Congress in 1986 passed the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act (LEOPA). It did so to protect law enforcement officers from a particular category of bullets – those that could be fired from handguns and pierce police officers’ body armor. Because rifle ammunition could also pass through police body armor, and some rifle ammunition could be fired from handguns, LEOPA protected common rifle ammunition by exempting from its scope projectiles “which the Attorney General finds [are] primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes," the letter states (emphasis is mine). "Earlier, ATF recognized the proper scope of LEOPA. ATF has always granted an exemption to the M855 5.56 x 45mm cartridge from the LEOPA ban because it recognized that this ammunition fell squarely within the “sporting purposes” test. It did so because factually, as well as legally under the legislative language, such cartridges were and are widely used by millions of law-abiding gun owners for 'sporting purposes.' These cartridges are prevalent for one of the most commonly possessed rifles, the AR-15. Congress did not, and did not intend to, ban this form of ammunition."
As I stated yesterday, if ATF has the ability to ban AR-15 M855 "green tip" centerfire rifle ammunition, they can ban all centerfire rifle ammunition under the definition of "armor piercing." Any type of centerfire rifle ammunition will penetrate a soft armor law enforcement vest.
"ATF’s proposed restriction of the M855 cartridge is particularly serious in light of efforts to ban other forms of ammunition. The standards in the “Framework” would make use of ammunition containing materials other than lead more difficult. At the same time, various efforts to ban lead ammunition are proceeding apace. Second Amendment rights require not only access to firearms but to bullets. If law-abiding gun owners cannot obtain rifle ammunition, or face substantial difficulty in finding ammunition available and at reasonable prices because government entities are banning such ammunition, then the Second Amendment is at risk. An outright ban is an even more serious threat to the Second Amendment than the threat to the First Amendment’s protection of free press created by a tax imposed only on voluminous purchases of paper and ink," the letter continues. "No federal statute, including LEOPA, interferes with the ability of law-abiding citizens to obtain ammunition commonly used for such legitimate purposes as target shooting, hunting, and shooting competitions. Nor could any such statute do so consistent with the Second Amendment. The 'Framework' should not be adopted, and ATF should not propose in the future to ban any widely used form of ammunition used by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes."
More than 200 members of the House, both Democrats and Republicans, signed a similar letter last week opposing the ban. ATF is taking comments about the proposal through March 16, 2015, which can be submitted here:
-Fax: (202) 648-9741
-Mail: Denise Brown, Mailstop 6N-602, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 99 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20226: ATTN: AP Ammo Comments