February 17, 2015
By G&A Online Editors
UPDATE 4/10/15: The ATF has rescinded their proposed ban on M855 ammo. Read the update here.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has announced it is attempting to ban common 5.56x45mm M855 ball ammunition by deeming it "armor piercing ammunition." The ATF is currently seeking public comment on the ban proposal, so all those interested in keeping M855 ball ammo available should contact the ATF to oppose the ban.
Currently exempt from federal law banning armor piercing ammo, steel-core, "green tip" M855 and SS109 ammunition has been commonly available for decades. Contrary to the ATF's stance, the M855 round has "sporting applications," as it is primarily used for target shooting and hunting applications. According to the ATF, the organization's move to ban the ammo is a result of the increasing prevalence of handgun versions of rifle platforms chambered in the 5.56 cartridge.
The proposed ban will not make it illegal to possess and use the newly defined "armor piercing ammo" already in circulation, but removing the decades-old exemption will certainly have an impact. If the new ban goes into effect, it will make it illegal to manufacture, import, distribute or sell M855 at retail.
Potentially more concerning than the ban itself is how the proposal alters the ATF's "framework" for applying the "sporting purpose" exemption test going forward. The new "framework" bypasses the law passed by Congress, disregarding the manufacturer's intention that a projectile or cartridge is "primarily intended for a sporting purpose" and inappropriately places emphasis on how criminals might misuse sporting ammunition in a handgun.
Equally disturbing for the firearms industry is the language in the ATF's proposal that refers to criminals as a "consumer group." This misleading phrasing implies that the industry purposely sells firearms and ammo to criminals.
The ATF is currently asking for comments on how it can best implement a withdrawal of the "sporting purpose" exemption while "minimizing disruption to the ammunition and firearm industry and maximizing officer safety." Comments will be accepted on the ban proposal until March 16, 2015.
CONTACT THE ATF to comment on the proposal:
Take a moment to make your voices heard on this topic! Please be polite in your comment and indicate M855 ammunition has a sporting purpose.
Fax: (202) 648-9741.
Mail: Denise Brown
Office of Regulatory Affairs
Enforcement Programs and Services - ATF
99 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20226
ATTN: AP Ammo Comments
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