Brownells Lake City M855 5.56 Ammunition Green Tip
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Brownells Lake City M855 5.56 Ammunition Green Tip

Government entities have a variety of ways to avoid complying with laws they find inconvenient. One is to slow-walk requests for records or other documentation when the results might cast them in a bad light. Or when they may reveal that they were acting in a blatantly illegal and/or unconstitutional manner.

Back in 2015, the Obama ATF proposed eliminating civilian sales of 5.56 M855 ammunition by unilaterally reclassifying it as “armor-piercing.” This despite the fact that it had long been widely used for sporting purposes. The resulting bipartisan outcry (from both Congress and the public) was such that Barack’s boys were forced to back down.

Judicial Watch has been trying to get the ATF to disgorge records of internal communication regarding what went into the decision to attempt to reclassify the ammo.

Against all odds, the ATF hasn’t been anxious to give Judicial Watch copies of the documents that have been requested. They’ve basically stonewalled the effort through delays and non-responsiveness. As a result, Judicial watch has filed a FOIA lawsuit against the agency to attempt to force compliance. Here’s their press release:

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), a component of the Department of Justice, for 1,900 pages of records about a proposed reclassification that would effectively ban certain types of AR-15 ammunition as armor-piercing (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-02218)).

Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit after the agency failed to respond to a May 14, 2018, FOIA request for the 1,900 documents about the Obama administration’s AR-15 ammo ban efforts. The documents include ATF talking points about the “Armor Piercing Ammunition Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” and other records discussing ammunition classification.

The lawsuit is the latest development in Judicial Watch’s more than three-year effort to obtain documents from the ATF. Judicial Watch discovered the document cache in separate litigation on the ammo ban issue.

In March 2015, more than 200 members of Congress wrote to former ATF Director B. Todd Jones to express their “serious concern” that the proposal to reclassify the ammunition types as armor-piercing may violate the Second Amendment by restricting ammunition that had been primarily used for “sporting purposes.” The ATF’s move “does not comport with the letter or spirit of the law and will interfere with Second Amendment rights by disrupting the market for ammunition that law abiding Americans use for sporting and other legitimate purposes,” the letter said. The ATF subsequently halted its efforts.

The precise statutory definition of armor-piercing ammunition can be found in 18 U.S.C. §921(a)(17).

“Simply put, the ATF refuses to comply with federal open records law,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said. “The ATF has withheld records for over three years concerning the Obama administration’s shady attempt to institute gun control by restricting ammunition instead of guns.”

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  1. But…but…this is the swamp draining administration, with the ATF under the careful oversight of Attorney General Jeff…oh, nevermind.

  2. And now Trump’s ATF is gonna make thousands of Americans felons for owning a piece of plastic. But because it isn’t Obama, it’s ok, or so says a ton of people on this board.

  3. If it’s anything like the FOIA on the bumpstock ban justification, it’s because there isn’t a modicum (a modicum is a very small amount) of legitimate argument for banning it, other than “we were told to do so.” Oh, and records of the Bureau reaching the opposite conclusion over & over for a period of decades.

    • The Fed gov’t is still infested with millions of unaccountable GS “workers” hired by Obumer, Clinton, (and 2x Bush). This IS the swamp. Thanks to demtard “labor” regs they can’t be fired for being unproductive useless O2 thieves. Must be for cause. The only way to drain the swamp.

  4. While in government, FOIA was a game of “Catch Me If You Can”. The “slow roll” was not only a tactic, the process was embedded in agency manuals. It was called the review cycle.

    Since no regular government employee is authorized to speak directly to the public (i.e. media and special interest groups), every contact from outsiders (as in “normal” people) had to be reported, then a summary of the contact was written and forwarded through the chain-of-review (just the summary mind you). Then, depending on the nature of the request for information, the actual FOIA request would be required to flow through “the system”, for official review. Then endless questions flowed back to the unit identified to create the documents identified (or the excuse for not responding). Each question could end up being a single request for details the needed to flow through “the system”. Then endless requests for clarification or speculation would flow down, then responses flow up. (notice how the clock is ticking all during the process). Then the formal response, with actual documents requested would be bundled, and a draft notice to the FOIA requester would be reviewed by just about every everyone at headquarters, with associated clarification requests sent back to the bottom of the chain. Und so weiter.

    Of course, some FOIA requests had the attention of very senior officials, and the process could be short-circuited to meet the demand (unless we knew the senior official really, really didn’t want to deal with the request). But even the accelerated process could be shut down quickly by finding some words in the requested documents that were classified somewhere, and prudence and good security practices required we err on the side of security, and deny the request. (“Really?, you say. Yes. I once experienced a situation where an unclassified, and publicly reported on, studied and researched monitoring capability was suddenly declared classified, and an attempt was made to make all copies of those publications classified, with subsequent confiscation).

    To borrow an antique song title, “It’s All In The Game.”

    • And even forced to comply F-Troop will say the records were accidentally sent to the shredder or incinerator. More likely the shredder AND the incinerator.

    • Just watched the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy last evening, and your description of the FOIA process totally reminded me of the Vogons and their addiction to slow process.

      • The movie or the TV show? The Vogons managed to outdo Arthur’s local council who had a planning notice in the bottom draw of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying “Beware of the leopard” ( and this was in a darkened basement where the stairs were removed).

      • “Just watched the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy last evening, and your description of the FOIA process totally reminded me of the Vogons and their addiction to slow process.”

        Gotta get around to reading that book, one day. Love the title.

        • Set aside lots of time then, because it’s a trilogy – which means that the set consists of five books.

          No, that’s not a mistake… it’s typical Douglas Adams humor!

          • “Set aside lots of time, because it’s a trilogy – which means that the set consists of five books.”

            Hysterical !!

  5. If just struck me that if M855 5.56 ammo could be banned as “armor” piercing, any centerfire rifle ammo with more energy could be as well, because as we all know, 5.56 is very much on the low end of the power scale regardless of the bullet. Also, “armor” is a real weasel word. So M855 can penetrate body armor designed, sold and known to stop only pistol bullets? Big surprise. They could just as rationally test it on the frontal armor of an M1 tank.

    • Armor piercing is defined by law based on construction, not performance. M855 uses a steel penetrator, and steel is on the list.

      (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.

      The M855’s core is lead, not steel (only tip), so (i) doesn’t apply. The jacket isn’t 25% of the weight, it’s designed and intended for rifles, and it’s arguably not larger than .22 [it’s .224, but so is just about everything called .22], so 2 or 3 reasons why (ii) doesn’t apply. It was an overstretch that tried to redefine the law arbitrarily, like calling bump stocks machine guns despite not meeting the text of the law.

  6. Disruptinng the market, its all about the money and nothing about constitutional rights .

    • Quite the opposite, granted many of the new hires were a good thing, helping with NFA paperwork processing (though a not-intentionally slow process for doing this would be an even better improvement)

  7. Onec avaon, respondinv to a FOIA request, an agency demonstrates why the FOIA is needed, and may not be enough.

  8. Been my experience that this is just a poke at the bear at this point.

    IF and WHEN they MAY get information, I’d be my bottom dollar its page after page of black lines.

    • “IF and WHEN they MAY get information, I’d be my bottom dollar its page after page of black lines.”

      Hey ! You are not supposed to know FOIA is a money-making scheme. Please delete your comment so word doesn’t get around.

    • Seconding this. Never forget! They couldn’t take M855, but there wasn’t enough outcry about 7n6 and it’s the same damn game!

  9. Jeff Sessions is the King of the Swamp, Hillery bought him off with Kinky favors. ALL THE F**KUPS brought us Ruby Ridge, WACO, Indirectly Oklahoma City, Fast & Furious! and who knows how many more Illegal Activities in the Name of the Communist Pinko Democrats!

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