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House Measure Would Strip BATFE of “Sporting Purposes” Power

Though it’s a long-shot effort, Law Shield appreciates the efforts of a group of more than 50 House Republicans who are backing a measure that would restrict the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’s ability to regulate ammunition and guns by reclassifying them.

Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources Rob Bishop (R-UT) introduced H.R. 2710, the “Lawful Purpose and Self Defense Act of 2015.” This bill would remove BATFE’s authority to interpret or reinterpret the “sporting purposes” clauses in federal law.

“The ATF has exploited vagaries present in federal gun law to chip away at basic rights. This legislation [H.R. 2710] will slap the over-reaching hand of the federal government and restore some of the freedoms our grandparents enjoyed,” Bishop said.

The term “sporting purposes” is undefined by federal statute and has been subject to several interpretations by BATFE. Most recently, BATFE used an interpretation of the “sporting purposes” language as a “framework” for proposing a ban on the popular green-tip M855 5.56 NATO ammunition for the AR-15. The agency wanted to reclassify M855 as armor-piercing and then ban the ammunition.

On March 4, 2015, 237 other members of congress and Rep. Bishop sent a letter to then-ATF Director B. Todd Jones to express serious concerns with the “framework” proposal. Bishop said the Lawful Purpose and Self-Defense Act of 2015 would ensure the Administration and the ATF are unable to interfere with Second Amendment rights in the same way in the future.

House Bill 2710 is awaiting committee assignment. It would:

— Eliminate ATF’s authority to reclassify popular rifle ammunition as “armor piercing ammunition.”

— Provide for the lawful importation of any non-NFA firearm or ammunition that may otherwise be lawfully possessed and sold within the United States.

— Protect shotguns, shotgun shells, and certain rifles from arbitrary classification as “destructive devices.”

— Broaden the temporary interstate transfer provision to allow temporary transfers for all lawful purposes rather than just for “sporting purposes.”

“The founding fathers recognized that the right to bear arms is fundamentally tied to self-defense,” said Rep.  Bishop. “This is as true today as it was over two centuries ago when the Bill of Rights was ratified.”

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