Congressional Democrats are demanding the ATF use "existing authority" to ban a popular bullet. The move comes just days after the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives backed off a proposal to ban the M855 green-tip cartridges, one of the most popular bullets used in AR-15 rifles.
The public comment period for the proposed ban closes Monday but in the face of overwhelming public opposition the ATF announced last week that they were going back to the drawing board.
Not good enough for Democrats. They sent a letter, obtained by The Hill, which says the ATF needs to act to keep, “dangerous ammunition out of our communities.”
“We hope that the Bureau will swiftly review comments on the proposed framework and issue a revised proposal that will address the danger posed by handguns that fire 5.56mm and other rifle ammunition,” Democrats write in the letter.
The letter expresses disappointment with the ATF decision.
“It is critical to update this legislation as new technologies are developed in order to keep law enforcement officers and our communities safe," they write. "That is why we urge you not to drag out this delay and to act swiftly to keep armor-piercing ammunition that can be used in handguns off the street.”
The ammunition in question has been used for years by target shooters and hunters, for whom it was designed. The ATF's proposed ban claimed that the intent of law-abiding Americans using the ammunition should be secondary to the intent of any possible criminal use of the bullets.
The Hill also reports that Democrats aren't waiting for the ATF to reverse course as they push for more gun control. Rep. Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat, has introduced a bill that would ban the M855 outright saying no one other than police and the military need these bullets.
"The out-of-touch gun industry lobby is fighting tooth and nail to keep cop-killing ammunition on the streets. We need to speak up on behalf of our police officers and say ‘stop the madness, ’” he added.
But it may be Engel who is out of touch; James Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, the largest law enforcement body in the Untied States, told the Washington Examiner that this bullet has not proved a problem for police.
"Any ammunition is of concern to police in the wrong hands, but this specific round has historically not posed a law enforcement problem," said James Pasco, executive director of the Washington office of the Fraternal Order of Police, the world's largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers, with more than 325,000 members.
He told Secrets that the round used mostly for target practice "is not typically used against law enforcement."
While the ATF did back away from the proposed bullet ban, their statement announcing the retreat did indicate the idea may come back in another form at a later date.