Government backs off from banning assault rifle bullet

Government backs off from banning assault rifle bullet
The ATF has backed off from its proposed ban on armor piercing ammo for assault rifles.

Amid a massive outcry from gun enthusiasts, the government has backed away from a proposed ban on a specific bullet used in assault rifles that can pierce vests and body armor worn by police officers.

In a bid to protect police officers, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had recently announced a proposal to ban the armor-piercing M855 bullet, which is used in assault rifles such as the AR-15.

However, when the agency opened its proposal to public comment, it received a tsunami of 80,000 comments, most of them against the ban.

"The vast majority comments received to date are critical of the framework, and include issues that deserve further study," said the ATF. "Accordingly, ATF will not at this time seek to issue a final framework."

Armor-piercing bullets for handguns have been banned from public use since 1968. But the M855 has managed to avoid the ban because it is used in assault rifles, which aren't technically handguns, and fall under the category of sporting rifles used by target shooters and hunters.

Related: Armor piercing ammo sells out, fueled by fears of a ban

It's another victory for gun advocates, who tend to oppose all forms of gun restrictions, out of fear that they could be incremental steps towards wider restrictions.

Fears of a ban on the bullet had prompted gun owners to stock up on the M855 ammo, which was disappearing from gun store shelves around the country.

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