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    State lawmakers sign letter to ATF opposing proposed ammo ban

    A group of 37 members from the Virginia General Assembly, led by Delegate Michael Webert (R-18), delivered a letter to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on March 26 detailing their opposition of a controversial proposed ban on a particular ammunition.

    The group told the ATF Director Todd Jones that the bureau's reasons for banning the 5.56mm/.223-caliber green tip ammunition are "inaccurate and extremely misleading."

    The ATF's proposed the ban on the ammunition because it is considered "armor piercing" and puts law enforcement agents' lives at risk, according to the proposed ban.

    "Your agency stated these restrictions were necessary to 'protect the lives and safety of law enforcement officers' from a 'significant threat,' but the existing evidence seems to run counter to this line of reasoning," Webert wrote in the letter. "No law enforcement officer has been killed with any handgun capable of firing M855 during the 38 years that the [Federal Bureau of Investigations] has reported the caliber of handguns used in such crimes. In addition, James Pasco, the Executive Director for the Fraternal Order of Police recently states 'this specific round [M855] has historically not posed a law enforcement problem.' "

    Webert, who is a member of the Militia, Police and Public Safety committee in the Virginia House of Delegates said the proposal is "another attempt by an anti-gun president to undermine the rights of responsible, law-abiding gun owners."

    "Policy is decided by the people's representatives in the legislative branch, not un-elected bureaucrats," Webert said. "We will not sit idle while he continues to attack our constitutionally protected freedom."

    Currently, ammunition that is "armor piercing," or can penetrate an officer's protective vest, is banned. However, the Gun Control Act of 1968, allows an exemption if "the Attorney General determines that the specific ammunition at issue is 'primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes,'" according to the proposed ban.

    The ATF has a "framework" that outlines which ammunition meets this exemption while meeting its goal "of protecting law enforcement while respecting the interests of sportsmen and the industry."

    According to the proposed ban, "ammunition capable of penetrating body armor was originally designed and manufactured primarily for military and law enforcement applications, not for use by the general public." By the 1970s, however, law enforcement agencies started to take notice that the "armor piercing" ammunition was available for the general public and "posed extreme safety risks to police officers when used by criminals."

    "The scheme was nothing short of an attempt to band the manufacture and importation of the second-most common ammuntion for the nation's more popular rifle -- the AR-15," wrote Webert, who lives in Mashall. "The ammunition, called M855 or 'green tip' accounts for a third of all 5.56x45mm ammunition purchased by Americans each year.

    Webert represents the 18th district, which includes all of Rappahannock and portions of Fauquier, Warren and Culpeper Counties.

    During the public comment period, which ended March 16, regarding the ban, the ATF received more than 80,000 comments from across the country.

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