We all remember just a few months ago when the ATF caused a stir when it attempted to ban M855 ammunition. The effort was the result of laws from the 1980s, wavers and the meaning of terms such as “sporting purposes,” “sporting use” and “armor piercing.” The “sporting” terms do not have strongly defined meanings and in the case of the M855 ammunition, it does not actually meet the technical definition of armor piercing. However, that has all been covered.
In an effort to protect our Second Amendment rights, and prevent another such debacle, Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT), chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources has introduced H.R. 2710, the Lawful Purpose and Self Defense Act of 2015. H.R. 2710 seeks to revise the Gun Control Act of 1968, as amended. The purpose is to replace the “sporting purposes” and “sporting use” sections with modernized language that better defines whether firearms and ammunition can be lawfully imported, possessed and transferred.
There is good cause for the change. In 2008, the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller noted that the core purpose of the Second Amendment is self-defense. The language of H.R. 2710 will more accurately reflect this core meaning of the right to bear arms. As a result, H.R. 2710 would prevent the narrow interpretations of federal law, such as reclassifying certain rifle ammunition as “armor piercing” to keep it out of the hands of ordinary citizens. Due to a lack of clear definitions for “sporting purposes” and “sporting use,” the Obama Administration has exploited the murky waters in an attempt to circumvent Congress and attempt to ban a popular type of ammunition for modern sporting rifles, namely M855.
Sporting Purpose – Firearms
H.R. 2710 also seeks to remove the “sporting purposes” requirement as it applies to the importation of certain firearms—some of which are popular for use in 3-gun competition and have been arbitrarily and unfairly classified as not meeting the “sporting purpose” test. Unfortunately, the ATF does not consider 3-gun shooting a sport, even though it is the fastest growing shooting sport in the nation.
The Lawful Purpose and Self Defense Act of 2015 (H.R. 2710), seeks to reform federal laws in the following essential areas:
- Eliminate ATF’s authority to reclassify popular rifle ammunition as “armor piercing ammunition.” Federal law regulating armor-piercing ammunition was intended by Congress to regulate handgun projectiles, but recently the law was used to attempt to ban popular rifle ammunition, notably M855/SS109 5.56×45 ammunition.
- Eliminate restrictions on importation of non-National Firearms Act firearm or ammunition that may otherwise be lawfully possessed and sold within the United States. Based on the “sporting purposes” test, firearms that would be legal to manufacture, sell and possess in the United States have been banned from importation.
- Protect shotguns, shotgun shells, and large-caliber rifles from arbitrary classification as “destructive devices.” When classified as a “destructive device,” a firearm falls under the National Firearms Act and is subjected to registration and taxes, and, in some states, cannot be possessed.
- Broaden the temporary interstate transfer provision to allow temporary transfers for all lawful purposes rather than just for “sporting purposes.”
“This is one of the most important pieces of reform legislation that the firearms and ammunition industry has seen come before Congress in recent years,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “We applaud Rep. Bishop for his support of this legislation and of the Second Amendment, and we urge other members of Congress to co-sponsor this bill.”