Protecting Our Sporting Heritage
By Senator John Thune
South Dakotans have long held a deep appreciation and respect for our Second Amendment rights. Responsible use of firearms for sporting purposes and personal protection are valued components of South Dakota’s heritage, ones that support important hunting and tourism industries, as well as keep our communities safe. As your U.S. Senator, I take seriously my responsibility to represent and protect your right to bear arms.
Last month, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) put forward a proposal that would have effectively banned the manufacture and sale of popular sporting ammunition, such as the M855 5.56 x 45 mm cartridge, to law-abiding gun owners. This significant overstep by the ATF would have limited access to ammo for commonly used sporting firearms, pricing responsible gun owners out of market.
That is why I joined 51 of my Senate colleagues in sending a letter to ATF Director Todd Jones on March 9 requesting that the ATF withdraw its proposal severely limiting access to rifle ammunition used primarily for sporting purposes. The proposal would have created a subjective test for determining whether certain types of ammunition are “primarily intended for sporting purposes,” which could exempt or restrict certain rounds from a law intended to protect law enforcement officers from armor-piercing bullets that can be fired from handguns. Historically, the attorney general has exempted such ammunition, but the ATF’s proposal would have been a significant overstep of its statutory authority and would have infringed on the rights of lawful gun owners.
Responsible firearm ownership is woven into South Dakota’s culture, and I am pleased that the ATF withdrew its proposed framework after receiving over 80,000 public comments generated since it was introduced in February. The ATF clearly saw the writing on the wall—this proposal significantly overstepped the agency’s statutory authority and ultimately would have infringed on responsible gun owners’ constitutionally-protected right to bear arms.
Unfortunately, this is not first time the Obama administration has attempted to curtail the rights of gun owners. While the ATF and other agencies may attempt to restrict the right to bear arms, rest assured, I will remain a vigilant advocate for the Second Amendment and for protecting the rights of South Dakota gun owners.