The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has apparently stepped back from what appeared to be a new regulatory policy to ban popular AR-15 ammunition - blaming the backlash on a simple "publishing mistake." Last month ATF issued a new "framework"which would be used for deciding what types of ammo are intended "primarily for sporting purposes." While AR-15 ammo is used for gun sports, it is also used for self-defense purposes as well.
The ATF ammo guide did not reportedly include a current listing of ammunition exceptions, such has the M855 cartridge commonly used in AR-15 semi-automatic rifles. The lack of inclusion of the M855 ammo on the ATF list led to immediate angst by gun owners and Second Amendment activists around the country. ATF officials are now claiming the the M855 cartridge was left off the list in error.
A release from the ATF regarding the AR-15 ammunition reads:
"Media reports have noted that the 2014 ATF regulation guide published online does not contain a listing of the exemptions for armor piercing ammunition, and conclude that the absence of this listing indicates these exemptions have been rescinded. This is not the case. Please be advised that ATF has not rescinded any armor piercing ammunition exemption, and the fact that they are not listed in the 2014 online edition of the regulations was an error which has no legal impact on the validity of the exemptions. The existing exemptions for armor piercing ammunition, which apply to 5.56 mm SS 109 and M855 projectiles and the U.S..30-06 M2AP projectile remain in effect."
While the ATF said the error will be corrected soon an apologized, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest appeared to assume the ammo list was correct as published and seemed to defend the AR-15 ammo ban.
"It would be fair to say, as we are looking at additional ways to protect our brave men and women in law enforcement, and believe that this process is valuable for that reason alone. This seems to be an area where everyone should agree that if there are armor-piercing bullets that fit into easily concealed weapons, that puts our law enforcement at considerably more risk."