ATF vs Gun Rights: Round Two?

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ATF Punched

March 10, 2015 was a Red Letter Day. No; it had nothing to do with Hillary’s e-mail “coming out party” at the United Nations. And, no, ISIS has not forsaken its bloodlust ways. It’s perhaps even more remarkable.

A federal government agency has backed down!

Specifically, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (affectionately known simply as “ATF”) publicly admitted failure and backed away from its misguided and disingenuous attempt to ban one of the most popular ammunition rounds in civilian use.

However, before we break open a bottle of The Bubbly, it must be kept in mind that this victory may be only temporary. As we know from actual experience over the past six years, the Obama Administration consistently and repeatedly has failed to live up to its self-styled status as the most honest and “transparent” in history.

This latest foray into heavy-handed regulatory warfare began a month ago when ATF – reversing a 29-year old decision – issued a “proposed” rule change that would designate .223-caliber “green tip” rifle cartridges (also known as “M855” ammunition) as “armor piercing.” The regulation would do this by removing the ammunition from the list of ammunition “exempted” from being considered “armor piercing.” The change would have made it unlawful for citizens – who use these cartridges by the millions in the widely-popular rifle platform known as the “AR-15” – to purchase or possess M855 ammunition.

M855 ammunition is used by target shooters and other sportsmen because of its accuracy, relatively reasonable price, and wide availability. It has never been documented to be have been used in handguns by criminals against law enforcement; despite claims by ATF that it is has been thus employed (which was the Bureau’s stated reason for the ban).

Unsaid in ATF’s proposed ban is the fact that the AR-15 rifle, which uses the M855 round, has long-been the “poster boy” for demonizing firearms by the gun-control crowd. This crowd, using the intimidation and fact-distortion tactics common to Liberals in politics and the media, has tried repeatedly in recent years to pass legislation limiting the availability of the AR-15. Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for those of us who understand and support the Constitution’s Second Amendment protections, gun-control efforts in this regard have failed.

But, the gun control folks have a friend in ATF; and through regulatory sleight-of-hand, the Bureau tried to slip one over on the American people. The Bureau had gone so far as to publish a newly-revised regulatory manual explaining that M855 ammunition was now considered an unlawful “armor-piercing” round – even before the public comment period for the proposed regulation was ended. That proved to be a “Bridge too Far.” A massive, public anti-ban comment avalanche, coupled with several bipartisan letters in opposition to what ATF was doing from the Congress, has forced ATF to rescind its proposed ban.

Clearly, however, the leopard has not changed its spots. This Administration, including the current leadership of the ATF in particular, remains strongly committed to restricting, rather than protecting, the people’s right to keep and bear arms – including ammunition. If the dozens of members of Congress who publicly stood in opposition to this latest “executive action” by President Obama, and if the tens of thousands of average citizens who did the same, think that the battle is won and they can take their eye off the ball and rest easy, think again.

Just as Obama and his Department of Justice (which is about to get a protégé of Eric Holder as his replacement) have thumbed their nose at the rule of law in other areas, including immigration, if left to their own devices even for a moment, they will not hesitate to find some other way to accomplish what ATF was unable to do this go round.

Bob Barr
Bob Barr is a former Congressman who represented the citizens of Georgia’s 7th Congressional District in the US House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. Bob heads Liberty Guard, a non-profit and non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting individual liberty.