News report on ATF and us

Can you folks access this article outside of Boeing? (watch the wrap)
formatting link

formatting link

-Fred Shecter NAR 20117
formatting link

--
"""Remove "zorch" from address (2 places) to reply.
Reply to
Fred Shecter
Loading thread data ...
It was in the WSJ. Let's see if it's anywhere else on the web...nope, so it's 'quote the whole damned thing' time:
Explosive Debate: Should U.S. Check Up On Model Rockets? Under 9/11 Law, ATF Keeps Tabs on Propellant Buyers; Feds Visit Al's Hobby Shop
The Wall Street Journal 05/07/04 author: Robert Block (Copyright (c) 2004, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)
ELMHURST, Ill. -- Al's Hobby Shop in this leafy corner of suburban Chicago is always packed with mothers looking for Cub Scout badges, teenagers ogling imported slot cars and grown men playing with model trains.
But to federal law-enforcement officials, Al's is also a possible terrorist supply depot. And so, last October, a special agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was sent to Al's from Washington to buy $1,700 in model rocket motors.
"The guy told me that the government wanted to do some tests," recalls Tim Lehr, who sold the agent 40 motors containing almost 60 pounds of propellant. "He wouldn't say what the tests were for, but I could guess: The government wanted to ruin my hobby."
Since the passage of the initial post-9/11 antiterrorism laws in October 2001, hobby rocketry has been struggling to avoid regulation that enthusiasts say will destroy their sport, deter youngsters from pursuing an interest in science and waste the nation's limited law-enforcement resources. The Department of Justice says that federal agents need to keep an eye on who is buying model rockets because the toys are potentially dangerous and could be adapted by terrorists to attack airplanes and American soldiers.
At the heart of the problem is a long-running dispute between hobbyists and the ATF, which is part of the Justice Department, over how to legally classify the chemicals used to propel rockets. Ammonium perchlorate composite propellant, better known as APCP, is a rubbery mixture of resins, powdered metals and salts that ignites at 500 degrees Fahrenheit and burns like a road flare on steroids. It's the same fuel that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration uses in the solid rocket boosters on the space shuttle.
For hobby rockets, APCP comes in the form of pellets wrapped in cardboard about an inch in diameter and three inches long. The cylinders, which start at $12.50 apiece and can go up into the hundreds of dollars, can be stacked in reusable aluminum casings to power larger rockets.
Rocketeers have always maintained that APCP doesn't detonate, it deflagrates. That is, it burns intensely at a controlled rate. Since 1971, however, the ATF has branded APCP as a "low explosive" subject to regulation and licensing by the bureau. In practice, the ATF largely ignored the rocketeers as long as they weren't selling or buying APCP across state lines.
With new fears about national security after 9/11, President Bush signed the Safe Explosives Act, an antiterrorism law contained in the bill that created the Department of Homeland Security. In effect for a year, the law now requires permits for all purchases of rocket motors and all explosives, including APCP.
Suddenly, hobbyists who had been freely purchasing such motors for years had to be fingerprinted and to submit to background checks. They had to pay $25 for ATF low-explosive-user permits to purchase more than 2.5 ounces of APCP and allow local and federal inspectors onto their property anytime to check for proper storage of the propellant.
The government insists it is trying to balance civil liberties with homeland safety. But federal investigators say that since terrorists showed they could level skyscrapers with boxcutters, no potentially suspicious activity can be ignored. "Most of the people involved in these activities are harmless fanatics and nerds," says one federal law-enforcement official. "But since 9/11, we have a responsibility to make sure the nerds are not terrorists."
Other hobbyist have also come under federal scrutiny, including bird watchers on the Canadian border and operators of radio-controlled airplanes. But this does little to console the rocketeers. Terry McCreary, associate professor of analytical chemistry at Murray State University in western Kentucky and a hobby-rocket guru, says sport rocketry helps kids by interesting them in wonders of chemistry, physics, astronomy and aerodynamics. "If you look deeply into the background of our top mathematicians and scientists, you will find a kid with a model rocket."
Pointing at a troop of about 15 Boy Scouts at a recent launch in The Plains, Va., Doug Pratt, who runs his own hobby-rocket business out of his basement in Herndon, asked: "Does that look like a group of terrorists to you?"
Faced with the prospect of being fingerprinted and having agents poking around their past, many rocketeers are leaving the hobby. The rocket club at Kettering University in Michigan has closed down because of the new regulatory requirements.
Looking for help, rocket groups have turned to Republican Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming, an avid fan of hobby rockets and model airplanes. In May last year, Senator Enzi sponsored a bill to exempt hobby rockets from government regulation.
The Department of Justice, which oversees the ATF, then wrote him a letter saying that "large rocket motors could be adapted by terrorists for use in surface-to-air missiles capable of intercepting commercial and military airplanes at cruise level and for use in 'light antitank' weapons capable of hitting targets from a range of nearly five miles."
Mr. Enzi wrote back to Attorney General Ashcroft, asking to see the results of the tests that led his department to its conclusions. Within weeks, an agent from the ATF was sent to Al's Hobby Shop outside Chicago to buy the first rocket motors for testing. Over the past six months, according to ATF officials, agents and private contractors have been working at Air Force bases in Utah and Florida firing model rockets at drones, vehicles and simulated crowds of people. The tests are classified.
Some rocketeers have hit upon another solution: They make their own fuel. They get together on weekends with pizza, beer and jars of precursor chemicals for "cooking parties" in their homes and apartments or in the back rooms of their businesses.
"It's legal and completely safe," says Jerry O'Sullivan, an insurance agent who cooks fuel with his friends in suburban Washington. Mr. O'Sullivan, who is a member of the Maryland Delaware Rocketry Association Inc., is taking advantage of a loophole in explosives legislation exempting anyone who mixes an explosive for his own "personal" use from having to get a permit. The exemption was created mainly for farmers who mix fertilizers and fuel oil to blast their own irrigation ditches.
One oddity of the government crackdown is the focus on rockets and not guidance systems. "The secret is in the guidance systems," says Arthur "Trip" Barber, a former captain of a U.S. navy guided missile destroyer, who is now vice president of the National Association of Rocketry. "I can build a rocket overnight but I couldn't build a guidance system in a lifetime."
-- """Remove "zorch" from address (2 places) to reply.
Reply to
Fred Shecter
Page not accessible.
John
Reply to
John Stein
Thanks Fred. I thought it was very well written.
tah
Reply to
hiltyt
POINT!
Randy
Reply to
Randy
formatting link
Doesn't come through externally... "unable to locate server: newsclips.web.boeing.com"
-dave w
Reply to
David Weinshenker
No.
David Erbas-White
Fred Shecter wrote:
formatting link
Reply to
David Erbas-White
Not with the url.
Not with the tiny yurl
Reply to
Jerry Irvine
"Mr. O'Sullivan, who is a member of the Maryland Delaware Rocketry Association Inc., is taking advantage of a loophole in explosives legislation exempting anyone who mixes an explosive for his own "personal" use from having to get a permit. The exemption was created mainly for farmers who mix fertilizers and fuel oil to blast their own irrigation ditches."
I really hate when they call something a 'loophole'. Even as the second sentence states, the lack of regulation was on purpose. Even has the gall to call it an exemption. It's not an exemption, non-commercial activity was never covered in the regulation.
Joel. phx
Oh, and I'm taking advantage of the 'loophole' that allows me to ride my bike on the street without a driver's license....
Reply to
Joel Corwith
Posting facts makes you a target on rmr.
Stop it Joel.
:)
Jerry
Reply to
Jerry Irvine
Those little electric scooters running around on the sidewalk are the sort of gray area that could cause problems... hopefully the vendors have the sense not to rub the DMV the wrong way by _advertising_ them as "Easy Access Motor Vehicles"...
-dave w
Reply to
David Weinshenker
A much better example Dave, and I should have thought of the motorized scooters that every kid has down here. Actually, they can call anything 'easy mobility' because the seniors down here aren't going to let anything stop them from being on the road.
Joel. phx (where a golf cart garage is a necessity)
Reply to
Joel Corwith
ROFL
Reply to
Jerry Irvine
And then, just as the National Mini Scooter Association finally gets the Uniform Vehicle Code weenies to admit that they don't really need to regulate such _small_ machines as "Motor Vehicles" after all, along come some crazies from California with "High Power Scooters" (based on "mini scooter technology") and make _everybody_ nervous. :)
-dave w
Reply to
David Weinshenker
That sounds familiar.
Reply to
Jerry Irvine
I agree. When they call it a loophole, it makes it sound like you're somehow cheating the system. Besides, they shouldn't have bothered going into the whole amateur motor thing, but instead should have pointed out that terrorist can simply make their own explosives to avoid all regulations.
I also wish they would have mentioned the onerous storage requirements which are the main show stopper for most folks trying to get LEUPs; and that the "$25 permit" is useless for rocketry.
Reply to
RayDunakin
Great post. this is why we keep coming back to rmr.. thanks !
Barry
formatting link
ode=display
formatting link
Reply to
<locprecision
Shut up Skippy! Its because of stupid fuck ups like you, that government agencys are cracking down on the hobby ... stupid idiot ... look Jerry let me be blunt. Everytime you post on this newsgroup ... I will attack you. I also will start to post about the physical abuse to your ex-wife, and what went down with your son ... so if you know what is best for your crazy roo ass, you better find another interest to fuck people with because I personally am not tolerating your shit anymore. The other stupid idiots on this group will kiss your ass and consider you jesus christ ... they have yet to have a screw job by you ... so its up to you Skippy. What do you want out of this news group now?
Reply to
Beatle Man
sure the nerds
Yeah, and it's a lot easier to check out American nerds than boatloads of illegal and legal foreigners flooding the country, especially recent young male Saudi immigrants who are ignoring their visa requirements. JBGT scum!!
This dovetails nicely with the Kafka-esque story that came out of Houston last week, where federal and local law enforcement groups had to assure the illegal alien community that there really were not stepped up immigration actions, so they could go on about their business. Just know INS (or their new initals) is enforcing the law, but please don't panic, you are disrupting society.
Your federal tax dollars at work!
Reply to
a0002604

PolyTech Forum website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.