In a draft letter first obtained by The Hill, Democrats are urging the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to use his “existing authority” 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 ATF had sought to prohibit gun companies from manufacturing or selling 5.56 mm projectiles for M855 cartridges, arguing they are a threat to law enforcement officers because they can be used in handguns.
But the proposal generated a firestorm of opposition from Republicans and gun groups, who denounced it as an attack on the Second Amendment that could open the door to sweeping restrictions on ammunition.
With the backlash growing, the ATF backed down earlier this week, shelving the proposal indefinitely to allow time for “further study.”
House Democrats in their letter say they are “very disappointed” that the ATF delayed the rule. The proposal, they say, is true to the spirit of the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act, which Congress passed in 1986 to ensure that officers do “not face extreme safety risk from firearm technology.”
“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.”
Dozens of House Democrats, including Reps. Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.), Jackie Speier (Calif.) and Steve Israel (N.Y.), are expected to sign the letter, which will be sent on Friday to ATF Director B. Todd Jones.
Jones declined to comment Thursday on whether his agency might reconsider the bullet ban at a future date, but he defended the plan as a “good faith effort” while testifying at a Senate hearing on the agency’s budget. Keep reading