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Administration Backs Down on Plan to Ban AR-15 Ammo

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Tuesday, March 10, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) announced that they were scrapping a controversial proposal to outlaw common ammunition used in the popular AR-15 platform. The AR-15 is increasingly popular with American sportsmen and hunters as generations of veterans since the Vietnam War have gained experience with it’s militarized versions. Majorities of both Houses of Congresses joined thousands of regular Americans in writing to the ATF to voice their displeasure with the controversial policy that many second amendment activists viewed as a backhanded attempt at gun control by a Obama administration which has long been hostile towards Americans’ gun rights.

US Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) said in a written statement, “I’m pleased to learn that the ATF has decided to withdraw its plan to limit access to sporting (AR-15) ammo. I recently joined 52 of my colleagues in sending a letter stating our opposition to this proposal that would threaten our Second Amendment rights.”

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) also signed the letter.

US Representative Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) wrote on Facebook, “I’m glad to see the ATF has backed away from its plan. I had recently signed a letter in opposition to this proposal.”

US Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, led 52 colleagues in expressing concern for a new proposal that would severely limit access to rifle ammunition primarily used for sporting purposes. The pro-gun rights Senators wrote that this class of ammunition is protected from prohibition under a 1986 Law Enforcement Officer Protection Act exemption.

The National Rifleman’s Association (NRA) wrote that, “The framework, proposed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), would set arbitrary guidelines for determining whether certain ammunition meets the 1986 law’s “sporting purposes” exemption. As a result, access to rifle ammunition long considered to be primarily used for activities such as target shooting and hunting could be limited.”

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The Senators wrote that the “Framework” should not be adopted and ATF should not propose in the future ATF should not propose to ban any ammunition widely used by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.”  Congress did not and did not intend to ban this form of ammunition,” referring to the popular M855 5.56 x 45 MM ammunition.  

In 1986 a number of bullet types were outlawed by the Congress because they were viewed as armor piercing. President Obama’s ATF proposed using that legislation to ban the 5.56 x 45 MM ammo on the grounds that it could penetrate the soft body armor commonly used by police.

The decision to back down in the face of pressure from an infuriated gun owning public is seen by many as a victory for the NRA.

The ATF had argued for the ban of the popular bullets.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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