Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Director B. Todd Jones told the Senate on Thursday that it has not given up its effort to create a framework for deciding which ammunition might have to be banned in the United States, and said his agency would reassess how to do that after it reads tens of thousands of comments it received over the last few weeks.

“We’re going to take the input in,” Jones told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Thursday. “We’re not going to move forward without analyzing the nearly 90,000 comments from all spectrums, with a sense of figuring out how we do this rationally and [in] a common-sense way that first and foremost for us protects our law enforcement officers in compliance with LEOPA.”

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ATF Director B. Todd Jones said Thursday his agency was going to pour over the nearly 90,000 comments it received about its proposed ammunition ban, and then figure out how to proceed from there. Image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The ATF this week was forced to temporarily shelve a proposed framework that seemed likely to result in a ban of a popular cartridge, the M855 “green tip” round, used in the AR-15 rifle.

The AFT made it clear on Tuesday that it would postpone that effort for now, in light of the thousands of comments that came in criticizing the idea. Several members of Congress also called on the ATF to back away from its proposal.

At today’s Senate hearing, Jones said the framework was not explicitly aimed at the M855 cartridge. Instead, he said it was an attempt to figure out a common rationale for deciding which other rounds might be able to be exempt from a general ban on armor-piercing ammunition that was established by the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act, or LEOPA.

“The genesis of us putting that framework proposal up for public comment was our good-faith effort to try and construct a framework to deal with nearly 30 exemptions that we have had in the queue for many many years at ATF,” he said.

“We do have a responsibility to regulate,” he said. “We cant stick our head in the sand with respect to the additional exemption requests.”

“I want to make sure everybody understands that this was not… an effort to completely ban that certain type of cartridge,” he added. “It’s this one particular green tip that is in essence military surplus that under LEOPA does qualify as armor-piercing, but has had an exemption for 30 years and [had] been in the market and used for sporting purposes for the last 30 years.”