WASHINGTON — Senator Richard Shelby took to Facebook Tuesday to express his approval of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) decision to withdraw its proposed ban of the .223-caliber M855 “green tip” ammunition, used in the immensely popular AR-15 rifle.
In its initial proposal, the ATF sought to ban the ammunition under an “ATF Framework for Determining Whether Certain Projectiles are ‘Primarily Intended for Sporting Purposes'” using the Law Enforcement Officer Protection Act (LEOPA) of 1986, which bans body armor-piercing ammo that could be fired from a handgun. While the M855 round does fall under that category, it was previously exempt from LEOPA bans.
The ATF posted a notice Tuesday that they were dropping the “Framework” that would have made the M855 round illegal after the agency reportedly received 80,000 responses during the proposal’s comment period, most them opposed to the ban.
“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,” the ATF said in the notice.
Both Senators Shelby and Sessions signed a letter delivered to ATF Director B. Todd Jones on Monday, imploring him to reconsider the agency’s proposed ban on the ammunition.
“It is not clear where the ATF believes it has obtained the authority to issue general standards interpreting the meaning of “sporting purposes” under LEOPA as to exempting or not exempting certain cartridges,” the letter said. “Nevertheless, no federal statue, including LEOPA, interferes with the ability of law-abiding citizens to obtain ammunition for such legitimate purposes as target shooting, hunting, and shooting competitions. Nor could any 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.”
While the ATF’s decision comes as a relief to many, the agency also mentioned it was going to continue to “further evaluate the issues raised” and provide “additional open and transparent process” before pursuing any further actions.