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June 11, 2015

NSSF Supports Rep. Bishop’s ‘Lawful Purpose and Self Defense Act,’ H.R. 2710


The National Shooting Sports Foundation, trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry, applauds the introduction yesterday of H.R. 2710, the Lawful Purpose and Self Defense Act of 2015, by Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT), chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources.

The bill would revise the Gun Control Act of 1968, as amended, to replace the “sporting purposes” and “sporting use” sections with modernizing language used to better define whether firearms and ammunition can be lawfully imported, possessed and transferred. NSSF considers the “sporting purpose” and “sporting use” provisions to be outdated and a hindrance to bringing lawful products to market. The 2008 Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller noted that the core purpose of the Second Amendment is self-defense, and the language of H.R. 2710 will more accurately reflect this core meaning of the right to bear arms.

H.R. 2710 would prevent narrow interpretations of federal law, such as reclassifying certain rifle ammunition as “armor piercing.” Lack of a clear definition of what “sporting purposes” and “sporting use” mean has allowed, for example, the Obama Administration to try to circumvent Congress and attempt to ban a popular type of ammunition for modern sporting rifles.

For nearly four years, NSSF and its member companies have been awaiting action by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on more than 30 petitions for rifle hunting ammunition seeking a “sporting use” exemption because the ammunition is made with non-lead alternative materials like brass. In California, which has banned the use of traditional ammunition containing lead for hunting, manufacturers are prevented from bringing new, alternative brass ammunition to market, raising the concern that hunters will face limited availability of ammunition approved for use in the state.

H.R. 2710 also would remove the “sporting purposes” requirement for imports of certain firearms—some of which are popular for use in 3-gun competition and have been arbitrarily and unfairly classified as not meeting the “sporting purpose” test because ATF does not consider 3-gun shooting a sport. Nevertheless, 3-gun is among the most popular new target shooting competitions nationally.

The legislation would reform federal laws in the following essential areas:

  • Eliminate ATF’s authority to reclassify popular rifle ammunition as “armor piercing ammunition.” Federal law regulating armor-piercing ammunition was intended by Congress to regulate handgun projectiles, but recently the law was used to attempt to ban popular rifle ammunition, notably M855/SS109 5.56×45 ammunition.
  • Eliminate restrictions on importation of non-National Firearms Act firearm or ammunition that may otherwise be lawfully possessed and sold within the United States. Based on the “sporting purposes” test, firearms that would be legal to manufacture, sell and possess in the United States have been banned from importation.
  • Protect shotguns, shotgun shells, and large-caliber rifles from arbitrary classification as “destructive devices.” When classified as a “destructive device,” a firearm falls under the National Firearms Act and is subjected to registration and taxes, and, in some states, cannot be possessed.
  • Broaden the temporary interstate transfer provision to allow temporary transfers for all lawful purposes rather than just for “sporting purposes.”

“This is one of the most important pieces of reform legislation that the firearms and ammunition industry has seen come before Congress in recent years,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “We applaud Rep. Bishop for his support of this legislation and of the Second Amendment, and we urge other members of Congress to co-sponsor this bill.”

NSSF urges you to contact your U.S. Representative to urge him or her to co-sponsor and support H.R. 2710.