The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced Tuesday it is temporarily halting a proposed ban on M855 5.56x45mm ammo.
The ATF has received more than 80,000 comments on the proposal, and said in a statement that the “vast majority” of the comments have been “critical of the framework, and include issues that deserve further study.”
“Accordingly, ATF will not at this time seek to issue a final framework,” the bureau said Tuesday. “After the close of the comment period, ATF will process the comments received, further evaluate the issues raised therein, and provide additional open and transparent process (for example, through additional proposals and opportunities for comment) before proceeding with any framework.
Here is the full statement:
NOTICE TO THOSE COMMENTING ON THE ARMOR PIERCING AMMUNITION EXEMPTION FRAMEWORK
Thank you for your interest in ATF’s proposed framework for determining whether certain projectiles are “primarily intended for sporting purposes” within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(17)(C). The informal comment period will close on Monday, March 16, 2015. ATF has already received more than 80,000 comments, which will be made publicly available as soon as practicable.
Although ATF endeavored to create a proposal that reflected a good faith interpretation of the law and balanced the interests of law enforcement, industry, and sportsmen, the vast majority of the comments received to date are critical of the framework, and include issues that deserve further study. Accordingly, ATF will not at this time seek to issue a final framework. After the close of the comment period, ATF will process the comments received, further evaluate the issues raised therein, and provide additional open and transparent process (for example, through additional proposals and opportunities for comment) before proceeding with any framework.
The ban seeks to prohibit the sale of common 5.56x45mm M855 “Green Tip” ammunition used in AR-style rifles. The ammunition has recently labeled as “armor piercing,” although it did not meet ATF criteria for armor-piercing rounds.
The premise for the ban was that since the round could be fired from a handgun holding more than one round it inherently put police at risk because the projectile could penetrate body armor. There are no known instances of the M855 round being fired at police with the newly targeted type of handgun.
The statement does not explicitly state that ATF will allow the exemption that enables the ammunition for public sale, but it does indicate a capitulation to the overwhelming public response against the ban.
Monday, 53 U.S. senators sent a letter to ATF Director B. Todd Jones that states, “ATF seems to have decided to ban ammunition types that the law did not ban, then developed from whole cloth an ‘objective’ test to supposedly provide it with the ability to ban the ammunition types it already had selected for prohibition.”
“Second Amendment rights require not only access to firearms but to bullets,” reads the letter, from Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley. “Nor could any such statute do so consistent with the Second Amendment.”