By Jim Shepherd ~ The Outdoor Wire
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- In political circles, it's an accepted fact (at least in the “old” media world) that the best times to slide something in under the radar is late on a Friday evening or over a long holiday weekend.
That's because the big newsrooms are essentially running with “B-teams” covering the beats normally manned by the better reporters.
Should the newsrooms actually realize a story's significant, it's significantly more difficult to reach someone for a comment -especially over a long federal holiday weekend.
Over this past weekend, the BATFE announced it was seeking to ban what the shooting industry is calling “commonplace” 5.56 M855 ball ammunition-reclassifying it as “armor piercing”.
As the National Shooting Sports Foundation says in an Action Alert distributed to NSSF members yesterday, this latest ATF action is “truly a solution in search of a problem and that raises serious questions about executive agency attitude and overreach. Stopped cold on Capitol Hill, this action appears to be the Obama administration's attempt to pursue gun control by other means.”
That's exactly what it appears is the intent- and precisely what many of us in the media have been warning was on the horizon should the administration continue to be stopped “cold” on Capitol Hill.
This commonly available steel-core ammo often referred to as “green tip” is primarily used for “sporting purposes” like target shooting. That “sporting purposes” use is why it has been exempted from federal law banning armor piercing ammunition for decades. There's no question, the NSSF contends, that the 5.56 ball ammo has been in wide use by law abiding American citizens for sporting purposes.
The opening the ATF sees is the growth of the handgun versions of the AR/MSR. Especially after the ATF's reversal on the “intended purpose” of the arm brace originally designed for disabled/handicapped shooters that it had ruled wasn't illegal if someone decided to slide one of them up to their shoulder as a pseudo-rifle stock. Initially, the ATF said that wouldn't constitute a conversion of a handgun to a short-barreled rifle because the use wasn't “as designed” by the manufacturer.
We remember -clearly- their reversal of that position as the industry was gathering for SHOT Show.
So, ATF is now taking the growth of the handgun versions of the AR/MSR-platform as reason enough to reclassify “green tip” ammunition. We – average citizens- could still possess the ammo we have (generous of them, huh?). But if approved, the reclassification would make the “manufacture, import, distribution or resale” of the ammunition illegal.
And when what you had was gone, there wouldn't be any more. At least not legally.
The NSSF points out several very valid points in their examination of the proposal:
First, the ATF's proposed application of the “sporting purpose” exemption test rewrites the law passed by Congress in order to “disregard the manufacturer's intention that a rifle or cartridge is “primarily designed for a sporting purpose”. As the NSSF points out, it also “inappropriately places the focus on how criminals might misuse sporting ammunition in a handgun.”
Worse, the white paper from the BATFE refers to criminals as a “consumer group.” As the NSSF points out, that is more than inferring that the industry purposely sells firearms and ammunition to criminals.
It's not just wrong, it's deliberately demonizing the industry- again.
There's no reason to outline the many ways this latest ATF proposal makes it possible for the administration to once again skirt laws passed by Congress. It also makes it highly problematic for ammunition makers to develop anything new for the .223/5.56 or the 7.62/.308 calibers- two very popular consumer choices for target shooting, competition and small and medium-sized game hunting. The 30-06 M2AP cartridge, incidentally, would remain exempt-because there aren't multi-shot handguns “currently available” that accept that caliber ammo.
The ATF, fortunately, is still accepting comments on this latest proposal until March 16, 2015. And you need to make your opposition known. If you're unable to use anything but email (Washington puts a much higher emphasis on faxed or mailed comments) you can use [email protected] If you choose to us fax (even an electronic one) you can send comments to (202) 648-9741. Or if you use the postal service, the address is:
Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
99 New York Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20226
ATTN: AP Ammo Comments
When you respond, keep your comments short and focused. Polite helps, too.
Nasty rants can be construed as threatening. That's not just counter-productive; it's stupid. Don't be stupid…please.
Ammo Price Gouging
One final word on this proposed ATF action- I've already had reports of unscrupulous retailers hiking up prices on their existing supplies of this ammo.
If you see dealers suddenly jacking up their prices on this ammo- including national online ammo dealers- and have before-and-after evidence- please drop me a note at [email protected] .
I'd like to speak with their management about the reasoning -before publishing a list for everyone to see who's supporting shooters- or out to make a quick buck at any opportunity.
They deserve to be called out – and don't deserve industry support.
– Jim Shepherd
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