Model-Rocket Bill Stirs Debate

[ from http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/30/national/30ROCK.html ]
NT Times - National July 30, 2003 Model-Rocket Bill Stirs Debate
By ERIC LICHTBLAU
WASHINGTON, July 29 At a time when Congress has been seeking to strip terrorists of potential tools, some lawmakers are pushing legislation that opponents say would do just the opposite by easing restrictions on explosives used in model rockets.
Legislation pending in the Senate would exempt some model-rocket propellants from toughened restrictions on explosives that were imposed by Congress last year in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The proposed exemption grew out of complaints from rocket hobbyists who said the new regulations would essentially ground them by requiring many users of model rockets to register with the federal government and go through background checks before using certain regulated explosives to launch their rockets.
But the effort to lift those restrictions is now drawing sharp objections from several lawmakers and from the Justice Department, which warned that one version of the legislation would give terrorists the power to hit targets five miles away.
Senators Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, and Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, standing alongside a seven-foot-high model rocket at a news conference today, said the proposal would allow terrorists to exploit a loophole to gather explosive materials used in numerous bombings.
"Why anyone in the post-9/11 world would think making it easier to get bomb-making material is a good idea is beyond me," Mr. Schumer said.
Backers of the exemption accused Mr. Schumer and the Justice Department of exaggerating the threat. It was an unusual reversal of traditional political alignments in the debate over how far the government should go to deter terrorism. The Democrats, who have cast themselves as strong defenders of civil liberties in that debate, pushed today for a more aggressive crackdown on terrorist tools, while Republicans emphasized the need to respect the freedoms of rocket hobbyists.
Senator Michael B. Enzi, a Wyoming Republican who has been the main advocate of exempting the hobby from explosives regulations, accused Democratic senators and federal officials of trying "to squash efforts to preserve a constructive, educational and important hobby enjoyed by millions of Americans."
Mr. Enzi said the Democratic effort to kill the legislation "doesn't make Americans that much safer, but it does make us more fearful and less free."
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, Congress and the Bush administration have moved to restrict numerous tools that they believed terrorists could employ, imposing new restrictions on overseas financial transactions, cellphone technology, carry-on items on airplanes, government Internet information and other areas.
Regulations imposed by Congress last year in the Safe Explosives Act restricted several chemicals used in high-power rocketry, including a propellant known as APCP and a compound known as black powder.
The Justice Department, in a June 10 letter declaring that it "strongly opposed" lifting the restrictions, noted that APCP is classified as an explosive and is so powerful that it is used in the boosters for space shuttles. The legislation as originally conceived "will harm homeland security by providing terrorists and other criminals with unrestricted access to rocket motors containing large amounts of explosive material, as well as to igniters and fuses that can be used to initiate explosive devices," wrote William E. Moschella, an assistant attorney general.
Since the Justice Department lodged those objections, Republicans agreed to a compromise limiting the amount of chemicals hobbyists can buy at one time.
Jorge Martinez, a Justice Department spokesman, refused comment on the department's concerns, and Mr. Moschella did not return calls. But Mr. Schumer said the department has told him it remained opposed to the proposal.
But Senator Orrin G. Hatch, the Utah Republican who leads the judiciary committee, said the compromise "minimizes the burdens on law-abiding citizens without jeopardizing the safety and security of our nation."
The new version was approved by Mr. Hatch's committee last month by a vote of 16 to 2, but Senators Schumer and Lautenberg have blocked the measure from coming to a full Senate vote without 60 votes, officials said.
In addition to the concerns about APCP, Mr. Schumer said he remained worried about allowing hobbyists unregulated access to black powder because the chemical has been used in bombs constructed by Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber; Richard Reid, who was convicted of trying to detonate a shoe bomb on a trans-Atlantic flight; and Eric Rudolph, accused in the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta.
Hobbyists, pointing to data of their own on the safety of model rocketry materials, said the senators were distorting the scientific record.
"These rockets can't be used as weapons," said Mark Bundick, president of the National Association of Rocketry. "They don't have guidance systems, they don't have enough payload, they don't have enough range, so to suggest that these materials could be used by terrorists is just untrue. And you cannot turn this stuff into a bomb."
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somebody needs to point out to this reporter that 50lbs of BP are already exempted for people who play with antique firearms......HELLO? anybody in there? Everytime anybody posts a story, the person writing the story should be contacted and sent a email package containing the TRUTH and the real scientific facts.... shockie B)

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No, people who SAY they play with antique firearms. No need to show/own the gun or provide proof that is what you are going to use it in. ANYONE can buy 50lbs just by saying it is going to be used in an antique firearm.
Kevin Patterson http://www.trailertrashaerospace.com
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This is a multi-part message in MIME format. --------------1CADAF61E26568D89588D0C3 Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Someone needs to point out to Senators Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, and Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey that when terrorists hit us again, and mark my words THEY WILL, they will not be using AP or BP in one of our hobby type rockets, but something that may be regulated or maybe not. Lets say nuclear for example. What will they ( Schumer, Lautenberg and their ilk) do then, try to pass another unenforceable law aimed at US? God knows that the terrorists will not pay attention to laws passed to try to stop them. Our Department of Homeland Security is a major sham that has been foisted on John Q Citizen!
It is a sorry state of affairs that some of out representatives are SO MISINFORMED & CLUELESS!
Our displeasure needs to be directed at the ballot box to rid ourselves of this kind of representation.
Neil (I have kept my emotional side out of this discourse) Tarasoff
shockwaveriderz wrote:

title:Realtor x-mozilla-cpt:;1 fn:Neil Tarasoff end:vcard
--------------1CADAF61E26568D89588D0C3--
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<< It is a sorry state of affairs that some of out representatives are SO MISINFORMED & CLUELESS! >>
What's really bad is that they don't even care. Facts mean nothing to them.
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Political HARD ONS would describe this BS. God only knows they haven't had one for a while! :-)
KMJK
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My theory is that these bozos must have been frightened by a loud noise when they were infants and have never gotten over the trauma. Can't think of any other reason they have such a hard on against stuff like hobby rocketry and firearms.
-Scott

had
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Once more -- we're an easy target, because we are small community of "eccentrics", and by making up scary scenarios about how hobby rocketry or RC aircraft can be used by terrorists, one can appear to be doing something about terrorism. As someone else so cogently observed, this is the closest thing to a sure thing a politician can get; these "threats" are ridiculous, so you can be confident that regulating them will be a "successful" antiterrorism strategy.
len.
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Don't forget led by self-destructive zealots.

--
Jerry Irvine, Box 1242, Claremont, California 91711 USA
Opinion, the whole thing. <mail to: snipped-for-privacy@gte.net>
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wrote:

PTht! (OK, one of my fears is self destructive missmanagement by HPR zealots.) But perhaps now is the time to concider bolstering our image by adding a couple big names to the NAR BOD, like a John Glenn or O'Keef, or even a Homeland Security big shot.
Alan
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That is actually a good suggestion except so few of those sorts of folks are qualified under the bylaws. One has to be a member for 3 years and there are so few NAR members to begin with (about 4000 worlwide) and painfully few are either famous or politically connected. The rules prevent putting a "ringer" on the board (ala Gore at Apple) by the 3 year ruls.
Jerry
--
Jerry Irvine, Box 1242, Claremont, California 91711 USA
Opinion, the whole thing. <mail to: snipped-for-privacy@gte.net>
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Rules? Rules?
I thought TRA existed so that rules could be ignored?
Put one on the TRA board......
Oh, wait.....
No sane or honest person would knowingly assume the legal risk of serving on the TRA board.
-- Jim McLaughlin **************************************************************************** **************************************************************************** I am getting really tired of spam, so the reply address is munged. Please don't just hit the reply key. Remove the obvious from the address to reply. **************************************************************************** **************************************************************************** Special treat for spambots: snipped-for-privacy@ftc.gov, snipped-for-privacy@ftc.gov, snipped-for-privacy@ftc.gov
***************************************************************************

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I said NAR not TRA otherwise I would agree fully.

--
Jerry Irvine, Box 1242, Claremont, California 91711 USA
Opinion, the whole thing. <mail to: snipped-for-privacy@gte.net>
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That's what "honorary" or "emeritus" memberships are for. I'm sure the NAR bylaws could be amended (it requires someone to write up a proposal ans submit it) suitably.
len.
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You have not proposed it and the "powers that be" have not approved it. I suspect it would take a "ringer" to pre-approve inclusion for such a measure to be forwarded and passed.
NAR will not even follow the federal law when it exempts rocketry in full from permit and storage requirements. What makes you think they would be any more sensible on your wacky proposal without even a clear ringer proposed?
Jerry
Jerry respects Len's accomplishments.
--
Jerry Irvine, Box 1242, Claremont, California 91711 USA
Opinion, the whole thing. <mail to: snipped-for-privacy@gte.net>
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The sheet Bunny handed out at NARAM shows just under 5000 members. It's waivered a bit but been pretty flat for the past few years. It peaked at just over 5K a couple years ago. HPR certified members and section members continue to grow and track in parallel. Junior members continue to dwindle.

The beginning of this thread was lost by the time I got back. Don't know who you're looking to make an honorary member. Not sure when this was last done, but when GHS started the NAR, he held back a couple dozen low numbers, and handed them out to VIPs and family members over the years.
    Bob Kaplow    NAR # 18L    TRA # "Impeach the TRA BoD"         >>> To reply, remove the TRABoD! <<< Kaplow Klips & Baffle:    http://nira-rocketry.org/LeadingEdge/Phantom4000.pdf www.encompasserve.org/~kaplow_r/ www.nira-rocketry.org www.nar.org
Save Model Rocketry from the HSA! http://www.space-rockets.com/congress.html
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On 10 Aug 2003 21:41:02 -0500, kaplow snipped-for-privacy@encompasserve.org.TRABoD (Bob Kaplow) wrote:

That is to be expected woth the NAR's focus on HPR.

Someone suggested that the NAR had an image problem. I mentioned that now (prior to NAR BOD elections) might be a good time to concider bolstering our image by adding a couple big names to our directorship, perhaps somone like an John Glenn, O'Keefe, or even a Homeland Security bigshot. Someone else suggested honorary membership, but that would not have the same effect. With a popular power figure like Glenn on the BOD, other agencies might think twice about opposing us. Having a Homemland Security "mole" inside the BOD might mitigate whatever fears they have and help ease up on burdonsome regulation.
Alan
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"Alan Jones"

----------
Hey.. great idea. How about a pac with the Planetary Society also?
HDS
"Sign 'em up"
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It's interesting to me how these zealots can make model rocketry out to be such a terrible terrorist weapon, with so much potential for destruction, when everyone here knows that is hogwash.
It's also interesting that the media uses words like 'short range', 'crude', 'inaccurate' to describe the homemade Qussam Rocket.
So how is it that REAL homemade rockets used as weapons in Israel are a documented failure as an effective weapon, when imagined rockets in the United States have the potential to shoot down planes, blow up Tanks from 5 miles away, and deliver bombs and biological agents?
I guess I see as using lies for a means to an end. The means is restricting rocket motors, and the end would be the elimination of the hobby.
That's my .02 cent political rant for the day.........
J.A. Michel

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On Thu, 31 Jul 2003 21:48:27 -0500, "J.A. Michel"

OK, what is this Qussam Rocket thing. Links please. This sounds OT, so perhaps you send me email.
Alan
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