The Obama administration has dropped an effort to determine whether there should be a ban on popular M855 “green tip” ammunition that is commonly used in AR-15 assault rifles and can be used in new AR-15 handgun models, Politico reports. The National Rifle Association says M855s make up 35 percent of the AR-15 ammunition market, the largest share of any style of bullet. Last month, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms began a review period to determine whether the M855 bullets violate a longstanding federal ban on armor-piercing handgun ammunition or whether a loophole in a 1986 law allowing the bullets to be used “for sporting purposes” would apply.
Conservative media outlets accused the Obama administration of pursuing a stealth gun ban, and the NRA and its allies immediately urged supporters to contact their representatives and make comments to the ATF. Yesterday, the bureau announced that it would not decide now on the rule change and instead would pursue “further study.” “You spoke, we listened,” the ATF tweeted. More than 80,000 comments poured in, the bureau said, the “vast majority” of which were “critical.” The delay is a defeat for the Obama administration. On Monday, 52 Republican Senators signed a letter from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to ATF expressing concern that the ban could signal the beginning of a federal crackdown on ammunition.