Videos & Speeches
Mar 12 2015
Mr. President, in my home state of Kansas, we enjoy a special way of life. I have talked about it many times on the Senate floor. That special way of life includes a rich tradition of hunting, target shooting, and other law-abiding activities covered by our Second Amendment rights. Our state welcomes nearly 300,000 hunters each year, and in turn those individuals create jobs and economic opportunity for many Kansans.
I was disturbed to learn of a recent proposal by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. On Friday, February 13, the ATF proposed--without any instruction from Congress, on its own volition--a framework to determine whether M855 ammunition, which is popular for hunting and target shooting, is primarily intended to be used for sporting or if it is more likely to be used in handguns by criminals. ATF indicated it wants to ban the ammunition, which has been used by law-abiding citizens, including Kansans, for decades because it is “armor piercing” and, therefore, poses a risk to the safety of law enforcement officials.
The fact is that almost all rifle ammunition is armor-piercing. The Law Enforcement Protection Act of 1986, which ATF cites as a statutory authority to ban this ammunition, specifically exempts armor-piercing ammunition “which the Attorney General finds is primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes.” Congress's intent for providing this exemption was clear: Law-abiding citizens should not be deprived of their right to use this ammo for legitimate purposes, such as target shooting, hunting, and shooting competitions. In fact, Kansans, who expressed their concern to me about this issue in recent weeks, have consistently indicated that the proposed ban would directly interfere with their sporting uses and, more broadly, their Second Amendment rights.
Most troubling about the ATF proposal was how it intended to judge “likely use” of this ammunition. ATF planned to judge that M855 ammunition is more likely to be used in a handgun for criminal purposes rather than for sporting purposes simply based upon the bullet's weight and type of firearm in which it could be loaded. What was missing was any interest by ATF in the law-abiding ammunition consumers across the county. How might they use the ammunition? How could ATF determine primary intended use without conducting a study on how that ammunition actually would be used by the public?
The ATF framework failed to make any objective conclusions and would have served as nothing more than a tool for increased gun restrictions--and I would say increased gun restrictions that weren't passed by Congress.
Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, Senator Grassley, circulated a letter among my colleagues and to me directed at ATF Director B. Todd Jones outlining these and many other concerns related to the proposed framework to ban this ammunition. I join Senator Grassley in signing this letter, and I am thankful it appears that our message was received because on Tuesday of this week the ATF announced that it will “formally delay” the implementation of the proposed ammunition ban. I thank the thousands--in fact, tens of thousands of Americans who voiced their concerns both to Congress and to ATF. ATF received an incredible 80,000 public comments on the proposed framework.
Congress has never banned this ammunition and has never intended to ban it. In the future, the ATF should not propose to ban any widely used form of ammunition favored by law-abiding civilians for lawful purposes.
Again, I am thankful that the proposed framework has now been rescinded, and I will continue my efforts in the Senate to support the Second Amendment freedoms of all Americans.