[Planet News] ATFE enforcement action strikes closer to home at QuickBurst

LAKE JACKSON, Texas USA -- The increasing regulatory pressure stemming from enforcement of explosives laws struck a little closer to home for
hobby rocketry enthusiasts this week with enforcement action taken by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives against David Bachelder DBA QuickBurst.
At 8:30AM on Wednesday of this past week, Bachelder received a phone call from an agent of the ATFE wanting to set up an appointment for a visit that same day. Bachelder explained that he worked a full-time job and getting away on such short notice wasn't easily accomplished. The agent reluctantly agreed to a meeting at 9:00AM on Thursday.
Bachelder holds a Low Explosives Dealers Permit (LEDP) and assumed the appointment was his annual inspection, since he has never been inspected in the three years he has held the permit, which incidentally is up for renewal at the the end of September. As it turns out, the inspection was for a different reason all together.
Bachelder had been selling hobby rocketry igniters from his QuickBurst web site (http://www.quickburst.net <http://www.quickburst.net/ ) in addition to other hobby rocketry supplies primarily recovery supplies, which included deployment bags, recovery harnesses, electronic launch controls as well as other construction components. The ATFE, without revealing how it came to be aware, seemed to be very interested in his igniters and electric matches.
The QuickBurst igniters are electronic firing mechanisms similar to other two-wire igniters used throughout the hobby. They feature augmentation by various pyrogen mixtures that enhance their capability to light hard-to-start combinations in the field, ranging from low-current igniters for black powder motors to various sizes of enhanced igniters to light the variety of ammonium perchlorate composite propellants found in various sizes and classes of high power rocketry applications.
The enforcement action seems almost to be capricious and arbitrary in nature, given that other companies have been been selling model rocket igniters for decades. In fact, Estes, Centuri and others have been selling igniters for quite some time. According to documentation presented during the NAR/TRA vs. BATFE lawsuit, the number one igniter of choice for home-made explosive devices has been Estes igniters.
During the investigation, Bachelder presented the ATFE investigator with a brand new package of Estes C6-0 rocket engines, on which the word "igniter" is written plainly on the front of the package. When asked if the wording indicated the presence of an "igniter" or not, the investigator said the wording does say igniter, "but that is not what it is."
When pressed about it being called an "igniter" but being told by the investigator that it's not an igniter, the agent said, "they do not function as an igniter." Since inception, the sole purpose of an Estes igniter has been to ignite the Estes model rocket engine, but apparently not if you are from the BATFE. Ultimately, the investigator refused to discuss it any further.
Also under scrutiny was Bachelder's ejection charge cannisters the simple combination of an electric match mated to a cardboard tube, filled by the end user in the field with black powder to eject a rocket's recovery system. Those, along with the QuickBurst smoke cannisters, QuickBurst's QuickDip pyrogen primer mixture, electric matches and all igniter products have been pulled from the QuickBurst web site following these events.
ATFE's contention was that Bachelder is required to have a Low Explosives Manufacturers License (LEMP) in order to produce and market these products. At the present time, no charges have been filed nor have any fines or penalties been imposed. But the next 90 days will be a very trying period of time for Bachelder and the QuickBurst business.
Perhaps this would be a good time to show your support for Bachelder by visiting his web site and purchasing some of the other products still available for sale, otherwise actions such as this could very well put him out of business. That outcome, while desirous of governmental agencies, would not be good for the hobby.
QuickBurst web site: http://www.quickburst.net /
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