In a move clearly intended by the Obama Administration to suppress the acquisition, ownership and use of AR-15s and other .223 caliber general purpose rifles, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives unexpectedly announced on Feb 13th of 2015 that it intends to ban commonplace M855 ball ammunition as “armor piercing ammunition.” The decision continues Obama’s use of his executive authority to impose gun control restrictions and bypass Congress.
Write Your Lawmakers and BATFE
BATFE is proposing to ban common rifle ammunition used by millions of gun owners. If their proposal is approved, it will result in a ban on the sale of commonly sold rifle ammunition used by gun owners for hunting, target shooting and self-defense. Write the BATFE and your members of Congress and express your opposition to this proposal. You may call your members of Congress at 202-224-3121.
It wasn’t even the third week of February, and the BATFE has already taken three major executive actions on gun control. First, it was a major change to what activities constitute regulated “manufacturing” of firearms. Next, BATFE reversed a less than year old position on firing a shouldered “pistol.” Now, BATFE has released a “Framework for Determining Whether Certain Projectiles are ‘Primarily Intended for Sporting Purposes’ Within the Meaning of 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(17)(c)”, which would eliminate M855’s exemption to the armor piercing ammunition prohibition and make future exemptions nearly impossible.
By way of background, federal law imposed in 1986 prohibits the manufacture, importation, and sale by licensed manufacturers or importers, but not possession, of “a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely . . . from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium.” Because there are handguns capable of firing M855, it “may be used in a handgun.” It does not, however, have a core made of the metals listed in the law; rather, it has a traditional lead core with a steel tip, and therefore should never have been considered “armor piercing.” Nonetheless, BATFE previously declared M855 to be “armor piercing ammunition,” but granted it an exemption as a projectile “primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes.”
Now, however, BATFE says that it will henceforth grant the “sporting purposes” exception to only two categories of projectiles:
Category I: .22 Caliber Projectiles
A .22 caliber projectile that otherwise would be classified as armor piercing ammunition under 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(17)(B) will be considered to be “primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes” under section 921(a)(17)(C) if the projectile weighs 40 grains or less AND is loaded into a rimfire cartridge.
Category II: All Other Caliber Projectiles
Except as provided in Category I (.22 caliber rimfire), projectiles that otherwise would be classified as armor piercing ammunition will be presumed to be “primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes” under section 921(a)(17)(C) if the projectile is loaded into a cartridge for which the only handgun that is readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade is a single shot handgun. ATF nevertheless retains the discretion to deny any application for a “sporting purposes” exemption if substantial evidence exists that the ammunition is not primarily intended for such purposes.
The BATFE is accepting comments until March 16, 2015 on this indefensible attempt to disrupt ammunition for the most popular rifle in America.
How to comment – from the BATFE
ATF will carefully consider all comments, as appropriate, received on or before March 16, 2015, and will give comments received after that date the same consideration if it is practical to do so, but assurance of consideration cannot be given except as to comments received on or before March 16, 2015. ATF will not acknowledge receipt of comments. Submit comments in any of three ways (but do not submit the same comments multiple times or by more than one method):
ATF email: APAComments@atf.gov
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.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Denise Brown, Enforcement Programs and Services, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, U.S. Department of Justice, 99 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20226; telephone: (202) 648-7070.
For those that do not have the time, ability or knowledge, I have crafted a letter that gives facts, testimony and specifications that can be used as a template or in its entirety. Please take the time to read and send this or your own letter to the BATF and your representatives. Time is of the essence as the BATF will stop taking comments on March 16th. Time is running out!
DELIVER THIS MESSAGE:
Suggested Subject: “To the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives:”
To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing to voice my strong opposition to the proposed change to current law that would make it illegal to manufacture, import or sell on the open market M855 / SS109 ammunition.
The claimed purpose of this change is to “protect the lives and safety of law enforcement officers from the threat posed by ammunition capable of penetrating a protective vest when fired from a handgun”.
As the Technical Branch well knows, all rifle ammunition of a common caliber such as .223 / 5.56 is capable of penetrating threat level IIA and IIIA body armor regardless of the firearm that is used to fire it. M855 / SS109 is no more of a threat to law enforcement than M193 or Horandy VMAX loads are.
It’s also worth noting that rifle caliber pistols are rarely used in violent crime, their usage is a statistical zero for all practical purposes, which further begs the question as to why this proposed rule change is being considered.
Your proposal states the change will have no impact on people already in possession of this ammunition. This is simply incorrect. Several states have laws prohibiting possession and/or use of armor piercing “AP” ammunition. Some states, in fact, consider a person in possession of AP ammunition a felon. Considering how widespread and common this ammunition is, I believe implementing this proposal would be an extreme burden on the unsuspecting public. This ammunition is sold at Walmart. Making felons out of consumers overnight seems to be a terrible decision. The ruling would make persons in possession of this ammo potentially felons and do so by applying ex post facto – which is in direct violation of Article 1, Section 9, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution.
I am also concerned about how SS109/M855 is being considered armor piercing to begin with. The definition in the code specifies the core be constructed entirely of (one of the prohibited materials). The majority of the core of the SS109/M855 is lead. The word “entirely” exempts SS109/M855 from the definition of armor piercing. The steel “penetrator” inside the bullet makes up less than 50% of the weight/volume. No rational person would say that the core is made entirely of steel.
As you know, the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act (P.L. 99-408) defined and outlawed armor-piercing ammunition in an effort to protect law enforcement officers, a goal all Americans share. Specific handgun ammunition originally designed to pierce body armor was banned from being manufactured or imported. It is important to point out that the bill’s sponsors in the House and Senate, Rep. Mario Biaggi and Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, intended to exempt ammunition originally designed for use in rifles, even if there were handguns on the market that technically could chamber the rifle ammunition.
During a 1984 hearing before the house judiciary, subcommittee on crime, Rep. Biaggi said,
“our legislation does not seek to affect in any way ammunition made originally or primarily for rifle use”
He went on to say,
“The story is, well, this will affect your ability to hunt; this is an encroachment on your right as an American citizen. It is without bias, it is a lie, the most damnable lie that I have ever heard during my 16 years in the congress from any representative of any organization.”
The bill’s Senate champion, Senator Moyniham, also clarified the intent of the legislation during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary, Subcommittee on Criminal Law:
“Let me make clear what this bill does not do. Our legislation would not limit the availability of rifle ammunition with armor-piercing capability. We recognize that soft body armor is not intended to stop high-powered rifle cartridges. Time and again, Congressman Biaggi and I have stressed that only bullets capable of penetrating body armor and designed to be fired from a handgun would be banned; rifle ammunition would not be covered.”
In consideration of the above, I have to come to the conclusion that if enacted, the changes will infringe on our Second Amendments rights as well as extend well past the original intent of the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act (P.L. 99-408). Not to mention that the round does not meet the specifications set forth to quality it as an Armor Piercing “AP” round.
Johnathan W. Carroll
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte was able to obtain more than 145 signatures from members of the house in opposition of the reclassification of the M855/SS109 ammunition. He is sending the signed letter to ATF director B. Todd Jones and Obama demanding an explanation for the changes proposed.
The Citizens of our great nation and the National Rifle Association (NRA) where instrumental in stalling the Obama Administration’s initial attempt to ban commonly used ammunition for the most popular rifle in America, the AR-15. The announcement that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF) will suspend its proposed framework to ban M855/SS109 ammunition validates the assertion that this effort was nothing more than a political maneuver to bypass Congress and impose gun control on the American people. Read more [HERE]