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 officerÂ 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
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 â€œgreen tipâ€ ammunition by classifying it as â€œarmor piercing.â€ 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 â€œarmor piercingâ€ 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 â€œarmor piercing ammunitionâ€ meansâ€”
(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 â€œarmor piercing ammunitionâ€ 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 â€œconstructed entirelyâ€ 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 â€œlarger than .22 caliberâ€ given that its bullet diameter is the same as the popular rimfire cartridge, and nor was M855 â€œdesigned and intended for use in a handgun.â€ M855â€™s jacket does not comprise â€œmore than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.â€ It is our assertion that M855 does not even fit into the statutory definition of â€œarmor piercing ammunition.â€
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 â€œprimarily intended to be used for sporting purposes.â€ 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 M855â€™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