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An Open Letter to the Head of the ATF: Another Ammunition Ban?

To The Head of the ATF

Mr. Jones:

It has come to my attention that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has recently instituted yet another ban on previously legal and widely imported ammunition.  These rifle rounds are made illegal and banned from import through a small and frankly underhanded tactic being carried out by your agency.  This week your agency announced that the further import of Russian surplus 5.45 X 39mm ammunition with military designation 7N6 would be banned in the United States. 

This is becoming a disturbing trend.  On 2 February 1994 the ATF issued an official notice that all Russian surplus 7.62 x 39mm ammunition with military designation 57-N-231 was now considered armor piercing (AP) and was now banned.  Your rationale for this move came from subsection (B) chapter 44 of the Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act of 1994:

(B) The term “armor piercing ammunition” means— ‘‘(i) a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium; or
‘‘(ii) a full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.”

There are several issues with this legal loophole that your agency is using in the name of fighting crime.  While you and your agency think you are fighting crime, what you are actually doing is distorting laws and refusing to target the true source of the problem.  In addition you are forcing Americans to pay a great deal more money to exercise their Constitutional rights as well as participating in the time honored tradition of firearms use in the United States. 

The ATF has had a history of overreaction and questionable actions regarding firearms and the regulation of them since the late 1980’s.  Yet somehow crime, particularly violent crime, has gone from bad to worse.  Yet still in 2014 your agency is still asleep at the switch and still trying methods that have proved to bear no fruit. 

Now, 5.45 and 7.62 Russian surplus ammunition has been banned because there are pistol variants that have been made that chamber that specific round.  This places the ammunition squarely in the definition of armor piercing and I have to ask myself if this was not by design.  Was the ATF counting on the popularity of AK47 and AK74 variant pistols? 

Nevertheless, over the last twenty years the political temperature of Washington, D.C. has been controlled by largely liberal agendas.  I find it odd that the eight years that President Bush was in office no action was taken on any ammunition despite the fact that pistol variants of the AR15 platform rifle became very popular.  To date the American Military surplus round 5.56 M855 has yet to be banned by the ATF even though it fits the exact same definition as its Russian counterpart.  As an owner of both a Russian AK74 and an American M4, I struggle to understand your rationale for this unless the motive is financial.  I sincerely hope that our elected leaders are not deciding firearms legislation based on the financial outcome of the United States. 

Finally I wanted to touch on what can be done to fairly remedy this problem and the lack of statistics that are on your side.  One of the major pushes for the outlaw of “cop killers” as Bill Clinton branded them came from the death of a Police Officer named Jerome Seaberry.  President Clinton used his death as a reason to outlaw armor piercing ammunition.  However, it was later discovered that Officer Seaberry was killed in an automobile accident.  There was no gun or ammunition involved in his death.  As a matter of fact, no armor piercing ammunition has ever been used to defeat a bullet proof vest in order to kill any member of law enforcement.  This would mean, sir, that the common steak knife and classroom scissors have killed more police officers than armor piercing ammunition. 

This was instituted under the Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. Are you aware that according to the FBI murders have increased since 2010?  However, the vast majority (>85%) of them have nothing to do with armor piercing ammunition or assault rifles. 

My solution is very simple.  Instead of taking the ammunition that is affordable and safe from Americans who should not be held hostage by hypocritical practices, why don’t we prosecute real criminals and see that they stay in jail?

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Mark Mayberry

Mark Mayberry lives in Tennessee and is pursuing a Law Degree. He hopes to work in politics and law after graduating. He is also a staff writer at and is the operator of Mark is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys spending time hunting and fishing as well as with his family. You can reach Mark on Facebook and Twitter as well as his website