CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is taking a stand about a federal proposal to ban a type of used by sportsmen.
Morrisey on Wednesday said he sent a letter to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives asking it to not resurrect a recently tabled proposal to ban a specific type of ammunition used by hunters and target shooters.
Last week, the ATF announced it was backing away from a proposal to ban the M855 5.56 x 45 mm cartridge after receiving 80,000 comments, most of which opposed the ban. However, Morrisey and other state attorneys general have sent letters urging the ATF to not revive the proposal at a later date.
The ATF had stated it wanted to ban the ammunition because it can pierce body armor. However, Morrisey pointed out in his letter that almost any rifle bullet could, in theory, pierce soft body armor.
“As the chief legal officer of the State of West Virginia, I take very seriously the enforcement of the law and the protection of law enforcement officers,” Morrisey wrote in the letter to ATF Director B. Todd Jones. “But the proposed ban does not serve either of these ends.
"The ATF has produced no evidence that the M855 poses a particular threat against law enforcement officers. Instead, the proposed ban seeks to eliminate a popular cartridge that is in wide use for sporting purposes.”
Morrisey said he believes the ATF’s proposal was an “arbitrary and unnecessary threat” to West Virginians’ Second Amendment freedoms.
“Our office firmly believes in and supports citizens’ right to own and carry guns for hunting, target shooting, as well as personal protection, and we will work to the best of our ability to ensure those rights are preserved,” Morrisey said. “We applaud the ATF for its recent decision to not issue a final framework, and we strongly encourage the Bureau to not issue a final framework on it in the future.”