NRA submits official comment on ATF reg changes, ammo ban

Monday is the last day to comment on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive’s proposal to change the process for exempting armor piercing ammunition.

The National Rifle Association submitted its official comment on March 13 – three days after the ATF folded on the proposal and with three days remaining in the comment period.

“[The framework] appears designed to do nothing so much as greatly restrict access to ammunition in common use in the nation’s most popular rifles, which happen to be highly unpopular with the incumbent presidential administration,” reads the comment, signed by Chris Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.

In the 15-page comment, the NRA opposes the ATF’s proposal with six carefully detailed points. The gun lobby argues:

  1. The changes violate the notice and comment provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act.
  2. The Law Enforcement Officer Protection Act was not intended to prohibit rifle projectiles or ammunition.
  3. Exemptions for “sporting purposes” was intended to apply to all sporting purposes, including non-competitive target shooting.
  4. The framework is premised on a flawed interpretation of a Supreme Court precedent.
  5. M855/SS109, or 5.56 “green tip,” ammo is not “armor piercing” under LEOPA.
  6. Framework would effectively criminalize possession of 5.56 “green tip” ammo.

The ATF withdrew the proposal on March 10, after receiving more than 80,000 comments, many of which were critical of any changes. The negative response was thanks in large part to the NRA focusing its energies on the possible ban of the 5.56 “green tip” ammo and connecting the ban to the president signing executive actions pushing for more gun control in the aftermath of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The NRA said the president couldn’t ban the AR-15 rifle in 2013, so now he’s going after its ammo.

With the proposal, the ATF said it aimed to change the way it exempts armor piercing ammo for sporting purposes and suggested that if a change did not occur, the popular type of ammunition may be prohibited.

Despite the ATF’s intentions, the NRA suggests how the agency could better serve the public.

“A reasonable interpretation of LEOPA, including the one ATF took in the early days of the law, can be responsive to this concern without trenching on the Second Amendment rights of law abiding Americans,” the comment reads. “Unfortunately, ATF’s proposed Framework is not only unreasonable, it ignores the APA, effectively rewrites LEOPA, and extends the law far beyond its congressional intent.”

“The Framework therefore must be withdrawn,” it continues. “Any further attempts to enact a rule of this sort should be undertaken in compliance with the APA and with honest recognition of LEOPA’s limited scope and the importance those limitation play in protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans. Should that happen, the NRA will remain available to assist.”

The ATF will still accept and consider comments submitted Monday for future proposals.

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