The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced on Tuesday that it will be suspending its campaign to “reclassify” — or as the gun community calls it, “ban” — M855 rounds, also known as “green tip” ammo.
It appears that after receiving more than 80,000 comments on the 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 ATF decided that it needed more time to research and reflect on the matter.
“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,” said the agency in a statement.
“Accordingly, ATF will not at this time seek to issue a final framework,” the statement continued.
While gun owners may be quick to hail this as a victory, the ATF may come back to the issue in the future.
“After the close of the comment period [March 16, 2015], 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 statement concluded.
Yet, despite those words, it was viewed as a stinging defeat for gun control advocates. Ladd Everitt, for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said the announcement was “very disappointing.”
“The ATF is undoubtedly cognizant that our Congress is under Republican control and they are dependent on that majority for funding,” Everitt surmised in an email to GunsAmerica.
“Perhaps they believed that the reprisals for ‘crossing’ the gun industry would put law enforcement in greater danger than delaying this proposal for further consideration,” Everitt continued. “It certainly now sends a dangerous message to the gun industry that anything goes when it comes to militarizing the civilian marketplace for firearms.”
Meanwhile, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade organization, released this Statement:
ATF announced today that it will not move forward with its proposed framework to ban commonplace 5.56 M855 “green tip” ammunition at this time while it reviews the record number (more than 80,000) comments it has received so far. ATF will continue to accept comments through March 16. NSSF, as the trade association for the firearms industry, looks forward to engaging in a dialogue with ATF to address this issue that led to the now withdrawn proposal. Our industry members hope to meet consumer demand in bringing alternative ammunition products to the market and to continue to sell the popular M855 rifle target ammunition. NSSF continues to strongly urge ATF to grant 32 long-pending petitions to exempt alternative rifle ammunition designed and intended for the h
GunsAmerica also reached out to NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation for comment. Will update when those pro-gun groups get back to us.
UPDATE, 2:38 PM: Statement from Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation.
“This is a great victory but the battle is not over. The Obama administration will try to rework this ban proposal and we will see it back sooner than later,” said Gottlieb in an email to GunsAmerica. “Now is the time to double our efforts and drive a permanent stake in any ammo ban.”
UPDATE, 4:02 PM: Statement form Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox of the National Rifle Association:
“Today’s announcement proves what we have said all along — this was 100% political. President Obama failed to pass gun control through Congress, so he tried impose his political agenda through executive fiat. But every gun owner in America needs to understand Barack Obama’s hatred of the Second Amendment has not changed,” said Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association.
“Make no mistake, this fight is not over. We will remain vigilant and continue to fight against President Obama’s attempt to dismantle the Second Amendment,” concluded LaPierre.
Chris Cox, Executive Director of NRA-ILA criticized the dishonest campaign to ban this common ammunition: “The lies used to justify the ban were shameful. This proposal was never about law enforcement safety – it was about the Obama Administration’s desire to pander to billionaire Michael Bloomberg and his gun control groups. Since they haven’t been able to ban America’s most popular rifle, they are trying to ban the ammunition instead.”
“The NRA would like to thank House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and House Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Culberson for leading the fight against this unconstitutional attack on our Second Amendment freedoms,” continued Cox. “This was a significant victory for our five million members and tens of millions of supporters across the country.”