More than half the members in the House, including nearly every Republican, are calling the Obama administration's proposed ban on a popular kind of ammunition "preposterous," and say the government's consideration of that ban is based on a brazen misinterpretation of federal law.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is considering a ban on M855 ball ammunition, which is widely used in the AR-15 rifle, the most popular rifle in the country. The White House has defended the ban as a way to protect cops around the country, because the ammo is "armor-piercing."
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is proposing to ban a commonly used type of ammunition, an idea that dozens of House Republicans are calling "preposterous." Credit: Getty Images
But in a Wednesday letter to the ATF, 239 House members said the proposed ban goes against the intent of Congress when it passed legislation in 1986 to protect police from armor-piercing rounds. The Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act, or LEOPA, recognized that most bullets can penetrate soft body armor, and that the law therefore ensured that ammunition would not be banned under the law if it's "primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes."
Republicans said that clause alone should spare the M855 cartridge from being banned, and said it makes no sense to say LEOPA was designed to ban one of the most popular types of ammo in the country.
"[T]his round is amongst the most commonly used in the most popular rifle design in America, the AR-15," they wrote. "Millions upon millions of M855 rounds have been sold and used in the U.S., yet AFT has not even alleged — much less offered evidence — that even one such round has ever been fired from a handgun at a police officer."
"The idea that Congress intended LEOPA to ban one of the most preeminent rifle cartridges in use by Americans for legitimate purposes is preposterous," they wrote.
The letter warned that ATF's proposal would give the ATF the discretion to ban any ammo it sees fit to ban, and said the rule overall would "interfere with Second Amendment rights by disrupting the market for ammunition that law abiding Americans use for sporting and other legitimate purposes."
Instead of worrying about ammo commonly used by legal sportsmen, sportswomen and hunters, the letter said ATF should be worrying more about more deadly rounds that criminals are using.
"ATF should refocus its efforts on serious threats to law enforcement officers from specially designed armor piercing projectiles that are intended for use in the sort of handguns commonly carried and concealed by criminals," they wrote. "Under no circumstances should AFT adopt a standard that will ban ammunition that is overwhelmingly used by law-abiding Americans for legitimate purposes."
Read their letter below, which includes typewritten names at the very bottom: