B. Todd Jones, the Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) told a Senate Appropriations Committee meeting today that he considers all 5.56 NATO to be a threat to enforcement officers.

In a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, ATF Director B. Todd Jones said all types of the 5.56 military-style ammo used by shooters pose a threat to police as more people buy the AR-15-style pistols.

“Any 5.56 round” is “a challenge for officer safety,” he said. Jones asked lawmakers to help in a review of a 1986 bill written to protect police from so-called “cop killer” rounds that largely exempted rifle ammo like the 5.56 because it has been used by target shooters, not criminals.

The ATF only temporarily retreated from a plot to ban very popular and common M855 ball ammunition two day ago. The agency wants to claim that M855 is an “armor-piercing” round according to a new “framework” of the agency’s owne design, even though the cartridge has been used in the United States since the 1970s and has never met the legal definition of the term previously. It is not considered to be armor-piercing by the military, which stocks a real armor-piercing rounds that civilians cannot own called the M995.  Purely as a matter of performance against humans the M855 is an abysmal failure, which is why it was abandoned by the military for combat, and why it has been surplussed out as training ammunition.

The NRA and both houses of Congress blasted the ATF plot on M855 as simply the precursor to an attempt to ban all 5.56/.223 Remington ammunition, which would destroy the ammunition market for the most common rifle sold in the United States. Jones’ testimony suggests that is precisely the position the agency would like to take.

Worse, that position suggests that any rifle bullet that is currently chambered in an AR-15—and therefore can theoretically be had in an AR-15 pistol—is a threat to officer safety. That could affect as many as 51 rifle cartridges.

Clearly, this framework from unelected bureaucrats is a potential threat to all rifle ammunition.

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The proper answer to the ATF’s gross overreach is to completely do away with the “sporting purposes” test in the Gun Control Act of 1968, and used on a whim by the ATF in other decisions since. It is an absurd position that firearms and ammunition must have a “sporting purpose” for hunters or target shooters to be lawful.