My M855 Public Comment

Even though BATFE backed down from its proposed rule change to reclassify M855 as “armor piercing,” I still thought it important to get a comment in if they decided to revive the issue at some point. Since I’m an officer at my local club, I figured I’d make a motion at the members meeting that our club send a public comment, and the motion carried without opposition. Tomorrow is the deadline for comments, so I thought I’d publish my comment here, just in case any of you might want to borrow some language for your own submissions:

March 15, 2015

Denise Brown
Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
99 New York Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20226

Dear Ms. Brown,

I am writing to you on behalf of Falls Township Rifle and Pistol Association, a 1,200 member private shooting club located in Falls Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The members of our club stand in opposition to ATFs proposal to ban commonly used M855 “green tip” ammunition by classifying it as “armor piercing.” While we are pleased that your agency has decided to back down from this proposal for now, we would like to make our opinion known, and considered in the event BAFTE decides to move forward with this proposal in the future. M855 ammunition is not classified as “armor piercing” by our military, and neither do we believe M855 ammunition should be classified as armor piercing under federal law. As you are aware, the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act of 1986 defined armor piercing ammunition as such:

(B) The term “armor piercing ammunition” means—

(i) a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium; or
(ii) a full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.

(C) The term “armor piercing ammunition” does not include shotgun shot required by Federal or State environmental or game regulations for hunting purposes, a frangible projectile designed for target shooting, a projectile which the Attorney General finds is primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes, or any other projectile or projectile core which the Attorney General finds is intended to be used for industrial purposes, including a charge used in an oil and gas well perforating device.

As you are also likely aware, M855 ammunition has a core that not “constructed entirely” from the listed substances, but has a core that is made from both lead and steel. It is also not readily apparent that M855 is “larger than .22 caliber” given that its bullet diameter is the same as the popular rimfire cartridge, and nor was M855 “designed and intended for use in a handgun.” M855’s jacket does not comprise “more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.” It is our assertion that M855 does not even fit into the statutory definition of “armor piercing ammunition.”

We further assert that even if M855 was to be classified as armor piercing, it surely fits into the exemption in the subsection C as “primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes.” M855 is used by millions of recreational and competitive shooters, including many members of our club, as an inexpensive source of practice ammunition.

BATFE director Jones has expressed concern about M855’s ability to penetrate soft body armor typically worn by police. But as you are certainly aware, soft body armor is only intended to stop handgun bullets. M855 has no greater ability to penetrate soft armor than any other round loaded in .223/5.56x45mm. Indeed, any centerfire rifle ammunition commonly used for hunting and target shooting is capable of penetrating soft armor. M855 is therefore not any more amenable to criminal misuse than other rifle ammunition. We believe this should weigh heavily against any decision to remove the sporting purposes exemption for this ammunition which has been in place and working for the past 30 years.



My Real Name, Secretary

4 thoughts on “My M855 Public Comment”

  1. They backed off not because they were wrong, but because we got the attention of the normally lazy Establishment GOP. They want us to walk away and think we won, so that everyone can resume their normal partisan gamesmanship for 2016.

    But we need to keep driving our ball. You don’t stop when the goalpost is close – you push harder.

    Don’t let the RINOs and the Dems get what they want. KEEP PUSHING!

    I have been sending this to GOP types:

    We need to eliminate the ability for any federal agency to regulate commonly owned ammunition, whether via EPA or a law-enforcement agency. This should include the resumption of commercial ammo imports from overseas sources.

    Likewise, we require carry reciprocity with a provision that limits non-violent transgressions (inadvertent carry in so-called gun-free zones, for instance) to civil fines. We don’t need felony convictions for crossing imaginary lines (parks, GFSZ, etc.). The Congress has the power under the 14th and 2nd Amendments to supersede state laws. There is no Tenth Amendment concern when fundamental civil rights are being protected from disenfranchising laws at the local level.

    And we want these to be law. We do not want these to be voter-bait for 2016. We don’t want a bill to pass, only to be vetoed.

    That means you need to attach these as amendments to bills that Obama will have to sign. You’ve done it before (Amtrak, National Parks Carry) and you can do it again.

    Gun-owners pay attention to details. We know you can do this if you want. We know that a stand-alone bill has no chance of becoming law. We know that if you are serious about protecting your constituents, you will use the parliamentary process to make law protecting our civil right of self-defense.

    Thank you for your support.


    – Patrick

    As Sebastian points out, now is not the time to stop. Now is the time to push harder.

      1. Amen.

        We play defense so often we don’t realize when momentum is being wasted. We stop when we stop their dumb attempts to restrict our rights. We think that stopping the M855 ban is a “win” when really it is nothing more than “not losing”. Big difference.

        The deniers never stop, and that is why they have won so many of their objectives despite a low mass. They use inertia and are willing to take one tiny win at a time.

        Stopping bad law is not good enough. We need to stop accepting defensiveness as a “win” and use our momentum to take it all the way. We need to force the GOP establishment to take us seriously. That means we demand actual legal protection of our rights, not veto-bait bills.

        We have mass but need to apply more inertia.

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