by Kenny Barlow
Co-Founder, Utah Gun Exchange
The outpouring of opposition from frustrated sportsmen and shooters saved our 5.56 ammo, right? Wrong.
According to ATF Director B. Todd Jones, the ATF move to ban 62 grain surplus 5.56 ammo isn’t over; it is just temporarily “suspended” with a possible plan for expansion.
During the Senate Appropriations Committee on Commerce, Justice, and Science meeting last Thursday (March 12, 2015), Director Jones thought he was just going to have another mundane funding increase request but instead found himself pressed by Committee Chair Senator Richard Shelby (R – AL) on his concerns of the ATF veering into the legislative realm.
From there the Director’s candid responses seemed all too telling.
As Jim Shepherd from The Shooting Wire (read original article here) reports:
[Senator] Shelby summarized the BATFE’s 2016 $1.3 billion budget request as a $60 million dollar increase over 2015, then flatly remarked: “I am interested in how the agency would use this increased funding, particularly in light of recent complaints from hunters and sportsmen who believe that ATF overstepped its authority by attempting to ban certain ammunition from recreational use.”
Shepherd reports that Jones told the Committee that the effort to ban green-tip wasn’t over:
…he made it very clear that the matter of military surplus ammunition in 5.56 was far from closed. In fact, the characterized the status as “suspended” not withdrawn.
But does it stop at green-tip? Far from it. Director Jones actually took aim at a much wider and far more popular group of ammo:
When Jones was questioned on what Shelby characterized as an “overreach” of authority by ATF earlier this week, he didn’t retreat. Instead, Jones used the opportunity to tell Sen. Shelby’s subcommittee that, because of the growth of AR-style pistols, he now considered “Any 5.56 round to be a challenge to officer safety.”
He then asked lawmakers to help in a review of the 1986 bill written to protect officers from armor-piercing (“cop killer”) rounds. That measure largely exempted 5.56 and a variety of other ammunition because it was used by target shooters and not in weapons readily used by criminals.
That’s right, folks, he said “any 5.56 round”. He doesn’t find just M855 ammo dangerous, he finds ALL 5.56 rounds to be the problem and then asked lawmakers to revisit the 5.56 armor piercing exemption. Removing the 5.56 exemption means a de facto ban on AR-Style rifles and pistols because sure you can buy the AR but what good is it if you can’t buy any 5.56 for it? And certainly while this may not withstand judicial scrutiny as “reasonable restrictions”, just like the interstate handgun purchase ban, I’d rather we nip this overreach in the bud now then down the road with drawn out court battles.
This battle for our 5.56 ammo is far, FAR from over. As Shepherd points out:
Jones candidly stated that – especially with the sales popularity of the AR-style pistol, he considered all 5.56 ammo a threat…
And this administration has shown little reluctance to take unilateral action-especially if it meant being able to make life even more difficult for law-abiding gun owners.