Anyone paying attention to gun news of late will already know that the M855 round for the AR-15 has gotten a lot of press. Only a few weeks ago, the Obama administration, working through the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) agency tried to ban the sale and use of this particular bullet. Now the agency has backed off, with most experts suggesting that public uproar over the ban is the cause of the retreat. Much of the protest came from both congressional leaders and the National Rifle Association (NRA)
According to press releases, the ATF will shelve the ban for now while it studies over 80,000 submitted comments concerning the proposal to ban the ammo, which is known as “green tip” ammunition. The basis for the ban, according to the ATF, is that this particular bullet is capable of piercing body armor worn by many law enforcement personnel.
In a public statement, the agency said: “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.”
As the law stands now, this round is legal because it is listed and sold for “sporting purposes”. That gives it exemption under a 1986 law that was put into force to help better protect law enforcement officials from handgun ammunition that can penetrate protective vests. At issue now are the newly designed AR-15 handguns which would be able to fire the M855 round. The proposal to ban the round came out in February 2015, but received almost instant protest from gun’s rights advocates.
On March 4, 236 members of the US Congress signed a letter that was sent to ATF Director B. Todd Jones. The letter argues that the ban could result in legal gun owners having fewer options when it came to the types of ammunition they wished to use in their legal AR-15 rifles.
The debate is not over, however; instead it is only on a holding pattern as the ATF goes through the comments it has received.
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