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March 5, 2015

Wanted: Someone to Run a Sneak Play for the White House


The late Friday news dump has been a standard Washington practice for decades. This tactic is used when someone in authority, an agency or department, knows they need to make something public, but wants to minimize the associated media coverage because they know that whatever that “something” is will be controversial, unpopular, or both.

So when one of these news dumps comes at 4 p.m. on a Friday before a three-day weekend, you know extra effort is being made to obscure something big.

Friday, Feb. 13, 2015 was such a day.  As Americans were preparing for the Presidential holiday weekend the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced that it planned to effectively ban M855 and SS109 “green tip” rifle ammunition in 5.56 and .223 calibers, rounds widely used by target shooters.

In 1986, Congress passed the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act (LEOPA) which outlawed all armor-piercing ammunition designed and intended for use in a handgun.  Congress did not intend to ban rifle ammunition for hunting or target shooting.  This is why the law expressly allows for an exemption from the law for rifle ammunition primarily intended by the manufacturer for sporting purposes.  That year, ATF granted an exemption for “green tip” rifle ammunition.

ATF’s proposal would remove this exemption from the law, thereby making this ammunition illegal to manufacture and distribute into the commercial market.  Should this ban be enacted, it could have serious ramifications for manufacturers, retailers, and shooting sports participants, alike.  Employment and livelihoods are involved.

The proposed change represents a massive overreach by the Obama administration.  It confirms that the White House is willing to try virtually anything to pursue its gun control agenda in defiance of Congress and existing law. This time they are hiding in plain sight behind ATF and the agency’s rule-making authority.

Second Amendment supporters are rallying in opposition, making sure that ATF hears their concerns. Law-abiding gun owners have also been reaching out to their representatives in Congress asking them to oppose the ban and seek justification from the ATF for this action. Just this week, 239 Members of the House of Representatives, led by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Ohio), sent a letter to ATF Director B. Todd Jones stating their opposition to the proposed change.  A similar letter, led by Senate Judiciary Chairman Grassley (R-Iowa), will soon be sent from Senators.

Now that the blow back has begun, the Obama Administration is using any excuse to justify its actions. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the following when asked about the proposed ban, ““The President has long believed that there are some commonsense steps that we can take … taking some commonsense steps to prevent people who shouldn’t have guns from getting guns.”  It may have occurred to Earnest that he wasn’t talking about guns at all, but ammunition, as he continued by saying, “We are looking at additional ways to protect our brave men and women in law enforcement, and believe that this process is valuable for that reason alone.”

Everyone is supportive of policies that will protect the men and women who keep us safe.  But, there is one big problem with this rationale – law enforcement does not support the ban. The National Association of Police Organizations has come out against the ban and the Fraternal Order of Police has expressed doubt about the need for a ban.  FOP Executive Director Jim Pasco told the Washington Examiner that “Any ammunition is of concern to police in the wrong hands, but this specific round has historically not posed a law enforcement problem.”

NSSF is doing everything we can to stop ATF from implementing this rule change, including seeking an extension on the comment period for the proposed rule, but we need your help to prevent this latest Obama administration attack on our Constitutional rights. Please contact your Congressional representatives today and urge them to oppose this ban.