(CN) - Attorneys general from 24 states signed a letter asking the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives not to ban a popular type of armor-piercing ammunition.
The Monday letter to ATF Director B. Todd Jones asks him to hold off on banning M855 armor-piercing ammunition, as the ATF recently proposed in policy framework.
"We, as much as anyone, want to do the upmost to ensure that our brave men and women that serve in law enforcement are safe," the letter states. "The proposed ATF ban does not advance that goal."
The AGs say the ammunition restriction is opposed by many law enforcement organizations, including the Fraternal Order of Police.
The bipartisan group includes 24 attorneys general from around the county, including Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.
"The state attorneys general commend the ATF for holding off on the final framework of this proposal, and we strongly encourage them to not revive it," South Dakota Attorney Marty Jackley said in a statement. "The proposed ban is unnecessary, and we are urging the ATF to continue to reject this ill-advised proposal and uphold the Second Amendment rights of our citizens."
The ATF backed away from issuing new restrictions on March 10, in the midst of a public comment period that drew over 80,000 comments with a week still remaining.
"Although ATF endeavored to create a proposal that reflected a good faith interpretation of the law and balanced the interests of law enforcement, industry, and sportsmen, the vast majority of the comments received to date are critical of the framework, and include issues that deserve further study," the ATF said on its website.
The new framework is designed to determine which kinds of ammunition are intended primarily for sporting purposes and which are not.
M855 cartridges are commonly used in AR-15 rifles and are popular with hunters and gamesmen. The ammunition also is widely used in combat today.
Given its reputation and capability to penetrate Kevlar and other forms of body armor, the ammunition has been a recurring target of those seeking to regulate arms and ammunition.
Last week Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., pushed the Armor Piercing Bullets Act in Congress, which would restrict the sale of M855 rounds and similar types of ammunition.
"Armor piercing rounds should only be in the hands of military personnel or police officers, period," Engel said in a statement. "There is absolutely no compelling argument to be made for anyone else to have access to them. But the out of touch gun industry lobby is fighting tooth and nail to keep cop-killing ammunition on the streets."
Congressional Democrats expect to keep pushing the issue even though the ATF has at least temporarily backed down from its proposed restrictions in the face of fierce public and political outcry.
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