Ammo ban – URGENT

[From my email newsletter sent February 20, 2015]

Last Friday, the ATF issued a notice proposing to rescind the exemption of so-called M855 “Green Tip” 5.56 x 45 ammunition from the federal armor piercing ammo ban, saying that since “5.56 mm projectiles loaded into the SS109 and M855 cartridges are commonly used … in both ‘AR-type’ rifles and ‘AR-type’ handguns… To ensure consistency … ATF must withdraw the exemptions for 5.56 mm ‘green tip’ ammunition, including both the SS109 and M855 cartridges.”

I suspect these two types are the most popular centerfire ammo of any type sold today. It seems that holiday weekends are this administration’s favorite times to try to slip something illicit by us.

The regulation is not listed on and the Federal Register, because ATF says, it’s exempt because it will “not actually be a [regulatory] change, more of a policy along those lines.”

Denise Brown of ATF Enforcement Programs and Services said the framework document is a notice only, and will therefore not be published in the Federal Register, characterizing the document’s intent as “information gathering” in order to collect technical information, which could affect the Bureau’s final determination.

Brown confirmed ATF’s decision not to publish in the Federal Register is based on the exemption provision in the APA, which states “Except when notice or hearing is required by statute, this subsection does not apply … to interpretative rules, general statements of policy, or rules of agency organization, procedure, or practice.” Also exempted is “when the agency for good cause finds (and incorporates the finding and a brief statement of reasons therefore in the rules issued) that notice and public procedure thereon are impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.”

Yes, they are out to get you, and they are planning it well.


A 1986 federal law prohibits the manufacture, importation, and sale by licensed manufacturers or importers, but not possession, of “a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely . . . from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium.” Because there are handguns capable of firing 5.56 ammo, it “may be used in a handgun.” But the ammo in question does not have a core made of the metals listed in the law; rather, it has a traditional lead core with a steel tip, and therefore should never have been considered “armor piercing.” But regardless, ATF previously declared M855 to be “armor piercing ammunition,” but granted it an exemption as a projectile “primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes.”

Note that RIFLE-only AP ammo is legal to sell.

Now, the ATF says that it will grant the “sporting purposes” exception to only two categories of projectiles:

Category I: 22 Caliber Projectiles

A 22 caliber projectile that otherwise would be classified as armor piercing ammunition will be considered to be “primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes” if the projectile weighs 40 grains or less AND is loaded into a rimfire cartridge. Apparently .17 rimfires are excluded from this exception.

Category II: All Other Caliber Projectiles

Except as provided in Category I (22 caliber rimfire), projectiles that otherwise would be classified as armor piercing ammunition will be presumed to be “primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes” if the projectile is loaded into a cartridge for which the only handgun that is readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade is a single shot handgun.

ATF could still deny any application for a “sporting purposes” exemption if substantial evidence exists that the ammunition is not primarily intended for such purposes. Presumably, this will also ban copper bullets such as Barnes XPB’s, et al.

We don’t know when single-shot handguns became the ONLY sporting handguns, or when “sporting purposes” became the only protected class under the Second Amendment. THERE IS NO SPORTING USE PROVISION IN THE SECOND AMENDMENT, but there is a military/defense provision.

ATF will accept comments on the proposed action if received on or before March 16, 2015, and will give comments received after that date the same consideration (or lack of) if it is practical to do so. Submit comments in any of several ways below (but do not submit the same comments multiple times or by more than one method). Washington puts a much higher emphasis on faxed or mailed comments. Below (here and here) are a couple of examples you can start with, and modify as you see fit. It’s probably better if they don’t get the exact same letter from everyone. We don’t expect much result from this administrative effort, but believe that Congress is also looking at this. In fact, also contact your US Senators and ask them to “defund” or overturn this proposed action.

Denise Brown (Phone 202-648-7070)
Mailstop 6N-602
Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
99 New York Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20226
ATTN: AP Ammo Comments

ATF email: [email protected]
Fax: 202-648-9741


We were warned.

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