ATF Hides Records on Reclassification of AR-15 Ammo as ‘Armor-Piercing’

For More Than Three Years ATF Evaded FOIA Request; Agency Withholding 1,900 Pages of Records…

AR-15 Rifles Celebrated at Pennsylvania Church(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has some explaining to do, but short of a court order the agency seems determined to bury a trove of potentially damning documents.

In March 2015, Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest law firm,filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking documents relating to the ATF’s attempt to effectively ban certain types of AR-15 ammunition.

The ATF, a division within the U.S. Department of Justice, acknowledged that it had more than 1,900 pages of related records.

But it never produced them.

Two years later in April 2017, Judicial Watch sued the then-Obama administration agency for failing to respond to its March 2015 request.


The ATF offered a narrow interpretation of the FOIA request in its defense, and proceeded to only produce 84 pages of records by the end of 2017.

On Thursday, Judicial Watch decided enough was enough.

The nonprofit firm filed a legal brief in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia asking the court to order the ATF to produce the full 1,900 pages of records regarding its proposed reclassification of certain AR-15 ammunition as armor-piercing.

Ammo that had always been used for sporting purposes, was to be re-labeled as armor-piercing and by extension would have been banned under the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act of 1986.

“The ATF is stonewalling,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.

“For three years, since 2015, the ATF has withheld records on how the Obama administration attempted to institute gun control stealthily by going after ammunition instead of guns,” he said.

Around the time of Judicial Watch’s initial ATF records request, more than 200 members of Congress wrote the agency’s former director, Todd Jones, to express their “serious concern” that the attempted regulatory ban would violate the Second Amendment.

In a letter addressed to Jones, the lawmakers warned that the 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.”