.223 Ammo Debate Reaches a Conclusion!

Much has been debated about The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)’s 17 page document seeking to ban certain types of 5.56mm/.223 caliber ammunition. As many gun enthusiasts know, the bullets are popularly used with the AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle for sporting purposes, such as target shooting. The ATF argument suggests that a ban would save police officers’ lives. The agency has expressed concern that the ammunition used in AR-based handguns holds the real potential of piercing bullet proof vests commonly worn by police officers.

The ATF submitted the lengthy proposal (17 pages!) to enact the reclassification of “5.56mm constituent projectiles of SS109 and M855 cartridges” from the category of “primarily used for sporting purposes” to one of “armor piercing ammunition.”  For years and years, readily available steel-core, “green tip” M855 and SS109 rifle ammunition that is primarily intended for “sporting purposes,” such as target shooting, has been, much to the pleasure of many gun enthusiasts, exempt from federal law banning armor piercing ammunition.  A potential ban by the government was genuinely feared by gun enthusiasts to have profound implications for target shooting and hunting. Many gun enthusiasts across the nation have been “loading up” on this type of ammunition out of fear that it will soon be unavailable, or at least far more difficult to procure.

In addition to the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, members on both sides in Congress had been vocally critical of the proposal. An ATF press release importantly concludes: "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." "Accordingly, ATF will not at this time seek to issue a final framework. After the close of the comment period, 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."

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