The Second Amendment and “Sporting Purposes”


In May, I discussed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ varying interpretations of the phrase “sporting purposes” in federal gun control law. We had just fought the agency to a standstill over its plan to ban the manufacture and importation of the M855 cartridge, the second most common variety of ammunition for America’s most popular rifle, the AR-15. B. Todd Jones, then director of BATFE, resigned in the aftermath of that debacle, but not before telling a Senate Appropriations Committee that with pistol platforms for the cartridge available, “any 5.56 round, it’s a challenge for officer safety, public safety.”

While the NRA has no problem with sports, or the sporting use of arms, that phrase misses the point when it comes to heart of the Second Amendment.  By making undefined “sporting purposes” the test for legality under numerous federal firearms laws, Congress not only delegated too much discretion to BATFE, it deemphasized the primary reason Americans own firearms and the primary purpose of their constitutional protection. That reason is self-defense. The M855 episode is just the latest example of why the current congressional scheme, administered by the highly-politicized BATFE, has become untenable. With your help, and the help of Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), the NRA intends to see this problem fixed for good.


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