Rounds Applauds Administration for Backing Off Ammunition Ban Proposal

Rounds Applauds Administration for Backing Off Ammunition Ban Proposal

 

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today applauded the Administration’s decision to withdraw a proposal to severely limit to rifle ammunition primarily used for sporting purposes. Rounds is a member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus.

 

“I was appalled to hear the Administration would even consider restricting access to bullets,” said Rounds. “In our letter, we made clear that the right to bear arms includes ammunition as well. I’m pleased commonsense and the 2nd amendment prevailed. Those of us who are supporters of the 2nd amendment must remain vigilant in monitoring this executive branch’s attempts to limit our right to bear arms.”

 

Yesterday, Rounds joined 52 colleagues in signing a letter to Director Todd Jones of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) expressing concern for the proposal. Today, the ATF announced it will not seek to issue a final framework for the proposed rule after receiving more than 80,000 public comments on the proposal.

 

###

Thune: ATF Overreach Could Limit Law-abiding Citizens’ Right to Bear Arms

Thune: ATF Overreach Could Limit Law-abiding Citizens’ Right to Bear Arms

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today criticized the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) proposal that would severely limit access to rifle ammunition used primarily for sporting purposes. Thune, a long-time champion of gun-rights, made the following statement on the ATF’s guidelines for determining whether certain ammunition meets the 1986 Law Enforcement Officer Protection Act’s “sporting purposes” exemption:

 

“ATF’s proposal to ban certain types of commonly-used ammo significantly oversteps its statutory authority and infringes on the constitutionally-protected right to bear arms. South Dakotans have long practiced responsible firearm ownership for self-defense and recreation, but limiting access to ammo for these commonly-used firearms could price responsible gun owners out of market—putting the Second Amendment at risk. I take this sort of attack on our right to bear arms seriously and will continue working with my colleagues in the Senate to ensure this Obama administration overreach doesn’t limit the rights of South Dakota gun owners.”

 

Yesterday, Thune joined 51 of his Senate colleagues in sending a letter to ATF Director Todd Jones questioning the agency’s authority to establish guidelines limiting access to certain types of rifle ammunition. This class of ammunition is protected from prohibition under a 1986 Law Enforcement Officer Protection Act exemption.

 

###

Noem Questions ATF Motive and Intentions with Proposed Ammunition Ban

Noem Questions ATF Motive and Intentions with Proposed Ammunition Ban


Washington, D.C. – Rep. Kristi Noem joined House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and more than 200 Members of Congress in questioning the motives and intentions of a proposed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) ban on certain ammunition.

“What the administration is seemingly trying to accomplish serves as a serious threat to the Second Amendment,” said Rep. Noem.  “This administration has worked in the past to ban this rifle, but Congress has shut them down. If the President thinks he can work around Congress by banning the second most popular ammunition used in that rifle with his pen, he should take another look at the Constitution.”

On February 13, 2015, the administration issued proposed regulations that would ban the M855 5.56 x 45mm cartridge, or so called “lightgreen tip” ammunition, saying it qualified as an “armor piercing” projectile and could therefore be banned as a means to protect law enforcement officers.  Numerous concerns have arisen since the administration’s proposed regulations were released.  Most notably, while millions upon millions of M855 rounds have been sold and used in the U.S., no evidence has been presented that even one such round has ever been fired from a handgun at a police officer.

In the letter, Rep. Noem seeks out more information on the “armor piercing” classification, the ATF’s decision not to publish the proposed “Framework” as is required, and what other rounds the ATF is considering regulating as armor-piercing ammunition. A full copy of Rep. Noem’s letter can be found below.

 

B. Todd Jones, Director

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

99 New York Avenue, NE

Washington, DC 20226

 

Dear Director Jones:

 

We are writing to express our serious concern with the “ATF Framework for Determining Whether Certain Projectiles are ‘Primarily Intended for Sporting Purposes’ Within the Meaning of 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(17)(C),” issued on February 13, 2015. 

 

The proposed “Framework” purports to establish an “objective” test for determining whether certain projectiles otherwise considered “armor piercing” under federal law qualify for an exemption allowing them to be lawfully manufactured, imported, and sold on the civilian market in the United States. The “Framework,” however, establishes an unduly restrictive standard, 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.

 

As you know, the ban on “armor piercing” ammunition was created by the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act (LEOPA) of 1986. The Act was conceived to protect police officers from the hazards presented by so-called “armor piercing” projectiles–originally designed for law enforcement and military use—that can be fired from handguns and penetrate the sort of soft body armor typically worn by police officers.

 

To do this, LEOPA bans various sorts of non-lead projectiles or projectile “cores” that “may be” used in handguns. As LEOPA’s authors realized, however, bullets fired from most common rifle cartridges can penetrate soft body armor, and some rifle bullets can be loaded into ammunition for handguns. Congress therefore incorporated an exemption into LEOPA for projectiles “which the Attorney General finds [are] primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes” to protect ordinary rifle ammunition from being swept up in the ban.

 

The “Framework” is intended to answer the question of how the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) will make “sporting purposes” determinations. It creates a two-prong test. First, ATF will exempt a “.22 caliber projectile … if the projectile weighs 40 grains or less AND is loaded into a rimfire cartridge.” Second, ATF will exempt other projectiles if they are “loaded into a cartridge for which the only handgun that is readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade is a single shot handgun.” Even then, ATF –under this supposedly “objective” test – “retains the discretion to deny any application for a ‘sporting purposes’ exemption if substantial evidence exists that the ammunition is not primarily intended for such purposes.” 

 

The effects of these restrictive interpretations are untenable. For example, since 1986 ATF has considered the M855 5.56 x 45mm cartridge to be “exempt” under the sporting purposes test (although its core contains a substantial amount of lead, raising questions about its classification as “armor piercing” in the first place). ATF has now rescinded that exemption because repeating handguns that fire the M855 round are commercially available. Yet this round is amongst the most commonly used in the most popular rifle design in America, the AR-15. Millions upon millions of M855 rounds have been sold and used in the U.S., yet ATF has not even alleged – much less offered evidence – that even one such round has ever been fired from a handgun at a police officer. The idea that Congress intended LEOPA to ban one of the preeminent rifle cartridges in use by Americans for legitimate purposes is preposterous.

 

While the banning of these popular cartridges is the most visible and immediate effect of ATF’s shifting policy, the “Framework” has other serious implications. It will, for example, inhibit the development and use of rifle ammunition containing non-lead materials, even as efforts are afoot both at the federal and state levels to impose bans or restrictions on lead ammunition. The eventual collision of these trends could result in drastically reduced options for lawful ammunition users. 

 

Neither LEOPA nor any other provision of federal law is intended to restrict the development of ammunition or handguns that were designed and intended to be used by private citizens for legitimate purposes. Instead, LEOPA should be construed in accordance with the American tradition of lawful firearms ownership, as protected by the Second Amendment. The term “primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes” should be broadly understood to incorporate the many legitimate uses Americans make of their firearms including target practice, hunting, organized and casual competition, training and skills development, and instructional activities.

 

The “Framework” does not comport with LEOPA’s meaning and intent and should be abandoned. ATF should refocus its efforts on serious threats to law enforcement officers from specially designed armor piercing projectiles that are intended for use in the sort of handguns commonly carried and concealed by criminals. Under no circumstances should ATF adopt a standard that will ban ammunition that is overwhelmingly used by law-abiding Americans for legitimate purposes. 

 

Of additional concern is the manner in which ATF issued the proposed “Framework.” The Administrative Procedures Act (APA) (5 U.S.C. 533) requires that “general notice of proposed rulemaking shall be published in the Federal Register…” To date, the “Framework” has not been published in the Federal Register.

 

In order for Congress to more fully understand the rationale behind the “Framework” please respond to the following questions by March 13, 2015:

1) How does ATF determine what constitutes the “core” of a projectile that has more than one discrete component or section beneath an outer jacket and upon what provision of law or other principle is that determination based? 

2) Why did the ATF not publish the proposed “Framework” in the Federal Register as required by the APA?

3) Under the “Framework,” what other rounds is the ATF considering regulating as armor piercing ammunition?

 

Thank you for your prompt attention to this request. If you have any questions, please contact Jason Cervenak, Senior Counsel, of the House Judiciary Committee at 202-225-3951.

Sincerely,

Kristi Noem

###

What did I learn today in Pierre?

As I’m working on retiring for the night, I am recalling a few of the things I learned in Pierre today as I mixed and mingled among our state’s lawmakers.

1 – The session this year was lower key, and lower stress.  Apprently making with more legislation and less personal conflict makes for happier legislators looking to come back.

Usually they bemoan ever coming back by this time, but No split caucuses, no one threatening other legislators… *Sigh*. They liked being here this year.

2 – Brian Gosch is a more benevolent majority leader than expected. And, they think he’s ok.  One legislator who was among those who attended rebel caucus  meetings in the last two years remarked on the high grades they gave Brian Gosch for the more Laissez-faire attitude he brings, and that he lets things go that might have otherwise set off conflicts with leadership before. 

With a “you get out what you put in” leadership style, you aren’t hearing about rebels this year, are you?

3 – Is that Marty Jackley lurking?  I’m hearing that, quietly, Jackley is chatting some legislators up letting them know he’s definitely got his eye on a big race in 2018. More than one person talked about Charlie McGuigan and/or Jim Seward jousting for Jackley’s current seat.

4  – With Senator Rounds, Governor Daugaard, and state chair Pam Roberts all based in Pierre, the GOP’s dormant office in town may be thinking about turning some lights back on. 

5 – And everybody I spoke with has written Democrats off in 2016, and expect them to abandon candidacies against both Noem & Thune, leaving them uncontested.

Any other thoughts.? What’s your gossip?

  • Watch this page

Thune: Don’t Jeopardize South Dakota Tourism Industry by Halting Important Work Visas

Thune: Don’t Jeopardize South Dakota Tourism Industry by Halting Important Work Visas

-Letter demands DHS, DOL reach an immediate agreement on H-2B Visa Program-

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today sent a letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary (DHS) Jeh Johnson and U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Thomas Perez calling on the agencies to reach an immediate agreement on issuing important seasonal employment work visas (H-2B) critical to the South Dakota tourism and construction industries. The loss of these employees would have a significant impact on South Dakota’s economy. Last week, DOL began halting all H-2B labor visas after a federal judge ruled the agency was stepping outside its statutory authority.

 

“Bureaucratic red tape at the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security is jeopardizing South Dakota’s tourism and construction industries,” said Thune. “I’ve heard from several businesses across the state concerned that this standstill in H-2B visas could threaten their ability to fill important seasonal positions ahead of the upcoming tourist season. These agencies have the ability to fix this visa issue before it becomes a problem for industries across the nation, and the time to act is now. I’ll continue to stay in close contact with the DOL and DHS and remain committed to working with South Dakota businesses to get this problem resolved.”

 

The text of Thune’s letter is below:

__

 

March 9, 2015

 

The Honorable Thomas Perez

Secretary of Labor

Office of the Secretary

U.S. Department of Labor

200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room S-2018

Washington, DC 20210

 

The Honorable Jeh Johnson

Secretary of Homeland Security

Office of the Secretary

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Washington, DC 20528

 

Secretaries Perez and Johnson:

 

It has come to my attention that the Department of Labor (DOL) has ceased processing H-2B visa requests following an injunction by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.  South Dakota relies heavily on H-2B visa holders serving as seasonal employees supporting the tourist industry throughout South Dakota, including the Black Hills.  Without the ability to hire such seasonal workers for the upcoming tourist season, many local businesses will be severely impacted, and some may be unable to operate.  H-2B visas are also essential to the construction industry in South Dakota, which contributes significantly to my state’s economy. 

 

It is my understanding that this issue can be resolved if the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issues delegation authority for H-2B visas to DOL or if DHS and DOL issue joint H-2B visa regulations together.  I would encourage you to pursue one of these solutions as soon as possible so that employers can prepare for the upcoming tourist season.

 

I would appreciate a response once you have determined the best solution for resolving this issue.

 

Sincerely,

 

###

 

Rounds Condemns ATF Framework Limiting Sporting Ammo

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today joined 52 colleagues in expressing concern for a new proposal that would severely limit access to rifle ammunition primarily used for sporting purposes. This class of ammunition is protected from prohibition under a 1986 Law Enforcement Officer Protection Act exemption. The framework, proposed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), would set arbitrary guidelines for determining whether certain ammunition meets the 1986 law’s “sporting purposes” exemption. As a result, access to rifle ammunition long considered to be primarily used for activities such as target shooting and hunting could be limited.

 

In a letter to ATF Director Todd Jones, the senators assert that the new framework defies the intent of Congress when it passed the 1986 law. They also question ATF’s authority to establish such a framework and express concern for its impact on Second Amendment rights guaranteed in the Constitution.

 

“Second Amendment rights require not only access to firearms but to bullets,” the senators write. “If law-abiding gun owners cannot obtain rifle ammunition, or face substantial difficulty in finding ammunition available and at reasonable prices because government entities are banning such ammunition, then the Second Amendment is at risk.”

 

Text of the letter is below.

 

 

March 9, 2015

 

The Honorable B. Todd Jones

Director

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives

99 New York Avenue, N.E.

Washington, DC  20226

 

Dear Director Jones:

 

We take issue with the “ATF Framework for Determining Whether Certain Projectiles are ‘Primarily Intended for Sporting Purposes’ Within the Meaning of 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(17)(C),” to which ATF sought comment on February 13, 2015.

 

Congress in 1986 passed the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act (LEOPA).  It did so to protect law enforcement officers from a particular category of bullets – those that could be fired from handguns and pierce police officers’ body armor.  Because rifle ammunition could also pass through police body armor, and some rifle ammunition could be fired from handguns, LEOPA protected common rifle ammunition by exempting from its scope projectiles “which the Attorney General finds [are] primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes.”

 

The “Framework” does not follow LEOPA.  Without any support, it purports to create an “objective” test never before applied for delineating which projectiles are “primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes.”  ATF will exempt a “.22 caliber projectile … if the projectile weighs 40 grains or less AND is loaded into a rimfire cartridge,” and will exempt other forms of ammunition if they are “loaded into a cartridge for which the only handgun that is readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade is a single shot handgun.”  But even if a particular projectile satisfies these novel tests, ATF proposes to “retain[] the discretion to deny any application for a ‘sporting purposes’ exemption if substantial evidence exists that the ammunition is not primarily intended for such purposes.”

 

ATF would determine what amounts to “substantial evidence” and whether the “ammunition is not primarily intended for [sporting] purposes.”  The statute was not enacted to give authority to ATF to do either.  In 1986, the sponsors of the legislation were emphatic in stating that ammunition commonly used in rifles for target practice or hunting was not of the type of ammunition that the bill would ban.  ATF seems to have decided to ban ammunition types that the law did not ban, then developed from whole cloth an “objective” test to supposedly provide it with the ability to ban the ammunition types it already had selected for prohibition.

 

Earlier, ATF recognized the proper scope of LEOPA.  ATF has always granted an exemption to the M855 5.56 x 45mm cartridge from the LEOPA ban because it recognized that this ammunition fell squarely within the “sporting purposes” test.  It did so because factually, as well as legally under the legislative language, such cartridges were and are widely used by millions of law-abiding gun owners for “sporting purposes.” These cartridges are prevalent for one of the most commonly possessed rifles, the AR-15.  Congress did not, and did not intend to, ban this form of ammunition.

 

ATF’s proposed restriction of the M855 cartridge is particularly serious in light of efforts to ban other forms of ammunition.  The standards in the “Framework” would make use of ammunition containing materials other than lead more difficult.  At the same time, various efforts to ban lead ammunition are proceeding apace.  Second Amendment rights require not only access to firearms but to bullets.  If law-abiding gun owners cannot obtain rifle ammunition, or face substantial difficulty in finding ammunition available and at reasonable prices because government entities are banning such ammunition, then the Second Amendment is at risk.  An outright ban is an even more serious threat to the Second Amendment than the threat to the First Amendment’s protection of free press created by a tax imposed only on voluminous purchases of paper and ink.  See Minneapolis Star Tribune Co. v. Commissioner, 460 U.S. 575 (1983). 

 

It is not clear where ATF believes it has obtained the authority to issue general standards interpreting the meaning of “sporting purposes” under LEOPA as opposed to exempting or not exempting particular cartridges.  Nevertheless, no federal statute, including LEOPA, interferes with the ability of law-abiding citizens to obtain ammunition commonly used for such legitimate purposes as target shooting, hunting, and shooting competitions.  Nor could any such statute do so consistent with the Second Amendment.  The “Framework” should not be adopted, and ATF should not propose in the future to ban any widely used form of ammunition used by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.

 

Sincerely,

###

Pot advocates planning on two ballot measures to make access to drugs easier.

According to the Argus Leader this morning, pot advocates are planning 2 measures for the 2016 ballot. One, for ‘medical marijuana.’  The other? To reduce the penalty for when they’re caught with ‘medical marijuana,’ a.k.a., decriminalization. 

 Organizations have submitted two proposals to the Legislative Research Council that could potentially wind up on the 2016 presidential election ballot. 
One would establish protections for medical marijuana. The other would ease some of the punishments for recreational users. 
 “Decriminalization would ease that burden for the legal system to prosecute real problems, like methamphetamine and rape,” said Ryan Gaddy, administrator for South Dakotans Against Prohibition. “Non-violent offenders aren’t hurting anybody.”

Read it all here.

So, “Decriminalization would ease that burden for the legal system to prosecute real problems, like methamphetamine and rape?”

But as a gateway drug, isn’t pot use the constant when they arrest users/dealers of meth

And it seems that there are plenty of real problems just with pot itself. Just ask the uptstanding Sioux Falls citizen-pot users involved in this case going to jail for a couple of years.

I suspect South Dakotans will once again reject these measures, despite it being trendy among liberals.

US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: Black Hills Future Uncertain Due to Long-Eared Bat

Black Hills Future Uncertain Due to Long-Eared Bat
By Senator John Thune

John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressHundreds of different wildlife species call the Black Hills National Forest home. Bison, deer, elk, coyotes, and antelope are all part of the vast array of wildlife that make the Black Hills a unique place to visit. Among the lesser-known wildlife species that call the Black Hills their home is the northern long-eared bat.

Unfortunately, northern long-eared bats are dying at alarming rates in parts of the country. Researchers have determined that the leading cause of death among northern long-eared bats is a disease in certain areas of the country known as white-nose syndrome. While this disease has been found in 22 states across the country, it has not been detected in South Dakota.

In 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) reached a secret sue-and-settle agreement with two radical environmental groups resulting in endangered species listing determinations for more than 250 species across the United States, including the northern long-eared bat. Despite the lack of evidence suggesting white nose syndrome exists in our state, if the FWS chooses to list the northern long-eared bat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) it would likely institute a number of restrictive measures in the Black Hills to “preserve” the long-eared bats’ habitat, including severely limiting active forest management.

Active forest management is critical to combating the spread of pine beetles, preventing forest fires, and cultivating a healthy forest in the Black Hills. Maintaining forest health isn’t just for the purpose of preserving the beauty and majesty of this treasured area of our state, but also represents an important sector of our state’s business interests. The FWS’s proposed forest management restrictions would significantly curtail the timber industry in the Black Hills at a cost of more than 1,500 jobs and $119 million in lost revenue to local economies. Additionally, widespread forest fires or pine beetle advances could jeopardize the state’s second largest industry, tourism; and ironically destroy the habitat of the species it is trying to protect under the listing.

After working closely with the Black Hills communities and timber industry, I introduced a bill on March 4 to prevent the FWS from listing the northern long-eared bat under the ESA. Since learning of the potential listing late last year, I have been actively engaging with the FWS and stakeholders to prevent these unintended consequences from impacting the Black Hills, including sending two separate letters calling on the FWS to stand down on its listing of the long-eared bat and resulting misguided forest management policies.

Limiting forest management practices due to listing the long-eared bat as endangered is unnecessary, reckless, and irresponsible. Rather than limiting active forest management in the Black Hills, the FWS should be focusing its efforts on eradicating white-nose syndrome. Over the past 10 years, no wildlife species has been listed by the FWS naming disease as a primary cause, which makes listing the long-eared bat even more questionable. I will continue working with my colleagues in the Senate to stop the FWS’s ESA listing, and advocate for common-sense policies that protect the forest and the animals that call it home.

###