A bill introduced in the House would require ATF officials and the attorney general to rely on ammo manufacturer design and intent when classifying ammunition.
The bill, the “Lawful Purpose and Self-Defense Act,” would eliminate the ATF’s unilateral ability to classify certain ammunition as “armor piercing” in efforts to make it unavailable to the public.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), said the legislation is necessary because of the agency’s efforts to reclassify popular “green tip” 5.56 ammunition as “armor piercing.” Following swift backlash from shooting sport enthusiast, the ATF backed off the effort.
“The Founding Fathers were clear when they drafted the Bill of Rights,” Bishop said. “The 2nd Amendment is about security and self-defense. Vagaries in today’s legal code pose a real threat to the right to keep and bear arms. The Obama administration exploited this ambiguity to forward its agenda of restriction. It’s time to ensure no future administration tramples on these freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution.”
In addition to banning the ATF from attempting ammo bans based on bureaucratic opinions, Bishop’s bill would also keep the agency from enacting new regulations to ban the import of firearms legal to own in the U.S. and reclassifying certain types of shotguns as destructive devices.
The NRA praised the bill, noting that the Supreme Court has already ruled that federal regulators have no lawful standing to stipulate that Americans should only own ammunition and arms for “sporting purposes.”
The organization said in a statement:
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller that the core purpose of the Second Amendment is self-defense. Nevertheless, many federal laws that regulate the importation, possession and transfer of firearms measure the lawful utility of firearms based on their usefulness for so-called “sporting purposes.”
The term “sporting purposes” is undefined by federal statute and has been subject to several reinterpretations by the ATF and its predecessor agency. Anti-gun administrations have exploited the lack of a clear definition of “sporting purposes” to bypass Congress and impose gun control through executive fiat. The most recent (and perhaps most infamous) example of this was the Obama administration’s attempt to ban a highly popular form of ammunition for the AR-15, America’s most popular rifle.