The ATF is on a bit of a hit streak when it comes to random reclassifications. First they arbitrarily and capriciously changed their collective mind on the pistol stabilizing brace. Then they tried to ban M855 ammunition by branding it as “armor piercing.” Now it seems that they are turning their gaze upon some of the less common items and applying their similarly capricious thought processes. The latest targets are types of projectiles which can be fired from 40mm grenade launchers, specifically parachute flares and chalk practice rounds. And their ruling could soon be expanded to include all ammunition bigger than 1/2 inch in diameter . . .
A thread on ARFCOM started it all, with the OP stating that they had been contacted by the ATF to turn in their recently purchased flare rounds. It is worth noting that these rounds had been previously classified by the ATF as non-explosives, but in this world of ever-changing definitions it seems that they have reversed themselves on that take.
The logic they use to support their move (presented in a letter here and here) is that because the 40mm rounds in question are not “small arms” ammunition, the ATF can classify them as “low explosives” having no explosive properties whatsoever. This is also, of course, applicable to any ammunition with a diameter larger than 1/2 inch. That means firearms registered as a “destructive device” may soon have their own love note from the ATF classifying every round of ammo as a dangerous explosive that needs to be confiscated for the good of all humanity.
President Obama has been looking for ways to manipulate the law to harass gun owners to the maximum extent possible for years, and this appears to be another attempt at instituting new gun control laws without the messiness of going through Congress. Today’s target are destructive device owners. There’s no telling who will be the next target of the President’s impotent rage against law-abiding citizens.