[Planet News] NAR/TRA Joint Statement on BATFE Issues, dated October 9, 2006

This message will report on the BATFEs Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) on the definition of propellant actuated devices (PADS)and our
October 17 hearing in US District Court.
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
On August 11, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) published in the Federal Register a proposed rule to state that hobby rocket motors are not propellant actuated devices (PADS). If accepted as a final rule after public notice and comment, HPR rocket motors would be subject to all applicable licensing and controls under Federal explosives law, the legally promulgated regulations, and ATF policy rulings.
You can download the full text of the proposed rule, including information telling you where to file your comments at
http://tinyurl.com/gejpp
IT IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT, BOTH FOR THIS PROPOSED RULE, AND FOR OUR ONGOING LITIGATION EFFORT THAT ALL MEMBERS COMMENT OPPOSING THIS NPRM.
We have reviewed the NPRM with counsel and offer the following suggestions for making responses:
1. Airbag manufacturers have been treated differently re: a PADS determination. In their June 1997, the ATF states that airbag manufacturers must have an explosive manufacturing license, yet state in the NPRM that airbags are PADS.
2. There are no clear technical standards for previous PADS classifications listed in the NPRM.
3. Congress did not specify that mechanism, metal work or inclusion in, exclusion from or stand alone was a requirement for PADS.
4. ATF has not established a clear process for application, review, adjudication and appeal for parties seeking a PADS definition for their devices.
5. Rocket motors, as used in practice, have parallel operation similar to other devices, listed by BATFE as PADS. Other devices function as part of a larger whole, and rely on other interacting components, just as rocket motors do.
6. ATF has previously exempted equivalent rocket motors used in aircraft safety systems from regulation. Details on these systems can be found at http://www.brsparachutes.com/default.aspx
7. The proposed regulation will have impacts per the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, adversely affecting United States-based companies ability to compete abroad.
Public comments are due not later than November 9, 2006, and must be delivered in writing to:
James P. Ficaretta, Program Manager Room 5250 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives P.O. Box 50221 Washington, DC 20091-0221
ATTN: ATF 9P.
Written comments must include your mailing address and be signed, and may be of any length.
We invite members to provide us with additional suggestions, ideas and approaches, along with references to any other written material they may discover in researching their response to the NPRM. As we compile those suggestions, well issue an additional message to members outlining these additional approaches.
October 17, 2006 Court Hearing
This hearing is one in a series of status conferences before the US District Court. As its stated purpose is for BATFE to report on progress it has made regarding its testing of APCP and reporting of those tests, counsel does not expect the Court to issue any rulings or orders based on this hearing. The most likely outcome from the hearing is for the Court to schedule both parties to submit cross motions for summary judgment on the issue of whether or not APCP functions by explosion. We would caution members against further speculation about the possible outcomes from this hearing, and will report on the hearing within a week of its conclusion.
We appreciate your strong financial support for this important legal work. As we head into this critical October hearing, with our case still pending and hanging in the balance, we hope you will continue to consider donating in whatever amount you can to the Legal Defense Fund. Your support and generosity will be recognized and acknowledged, and you'll be able to say "I supported the fight for an unregulated sport rocket hobby."
When we have further developments, we'll continue to report them here and in our publications.
Mark Bundick, President National Association of Rocketry
Ken Good, President Tripoli Rocketry Association
--
Rocketry Planet hobby rocketry news, feature articles, news archive,
discussion forums, live chat, free auctions, launch calendar and the largest
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I would also include a statement along these lines... HPR has been allowed for years and continues to promote technical innovation and growth for our countries' engineers and scientists. It has been a contributor to the talents of many of the personal resources which provide for the security of this country by encouraging participation in the science of rocketry and space. By implementing this rule we are effectively eliminating the pool of scientists who could make and keep this country safe and great. What the ATF is doing is the equivalent of removing the college campuses of our nation from the grasps of eager minds willing to support and sustain this great nation. In the end it would result in a weaker and less secure nation. The people of the united states want their country to be safe and on the cutting edge in science and technology. We are not a group of terrorist but law abiding citizens who want our nation to succeed. Please give us back our college campus of High Power Rocketry.
Those are my thoughts!
I work at an Aerospace company making motors for space. I would not be there if it had not been for involvement in rocketry. I work with many talented people who have had the same experience. We all know Homer and the Rocket Boys. They are famos and living evidence of what I have said.
Write to the BATF all of you!!! Don't be wimps and let them take your hobby away from you!
KT
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Snip

---------
They already have.
In the words of Bill Paxton in the movie Aliens: "Game over man, Game over".
The legal battle is one sided. They have unlimited money and time. They will get everything they want sooner or later. We live in "terror everywhere" times. Rockets are an easy target. We are throwing money into the wind.
HDS
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
HDS wrote:

Agreed.. I stopped giving money to the legal fund right after 9/11/2001. From that point forward, it was only "pissing in the wind".
The BATFE will only drag this out until NAR/TRA have nothing left in their legal funds.
I really wish that TRA/NAR had spent the money on ways to find storage for the various clubs around the county, and provided guidance on LEUPS for those clubs. We'd all be sitting pretty right now.....
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
This is an uphill battle, no doubt about it. But I disagree with the attitude of (as ex-Governor Bill Clements once said) "If it's inevitable, just relax and enjoy it." This is clearly an issue of the Federal Government grabbing too much power and control over what should be (and once was) a local and state issue. It is indicative of the emerging dominance of the Executive Branch made possible by the complete abdication of leadership by the Legislative Branch. It is the Congress that holds the ultimate solution to this mess and it is the Congress that is unwilling to act. And to be clear I aim this criticism at the Federal Government as a whole, not exclusively to one political party or another.
While I oppose the regulation of HPR motors I do have a LEUP to allow me to continue my hobby at the same time. At the same time I support the lawsuit and legislative attempts for long term relief. I also plan to vote against all incumbents in the next election. If every voter simply voted against the incumbent (regardless of party) and continued to do this until Congress does their job we would send a very clear message to our elected representatives that they represent US and that WE can keep voting them out of power every two years.
No Incumbent Left Beyond
AZ Woody wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ok Alex,
So what is the answer? How do we solve this issue to make BOTH sides happy? Just a little bit of regulation is the same as being a little bit pregnant.
If its not in the Bill of Rights, then its privilage that can be allowed/disallowed at anytime... and even the Constitution is not safe these days :(
Lunar
Alex Mericas wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@juno.com wrote:

My solution is to vote against incumbents and keep voting against them until our elected representatives understand that they should represent their constituents, not the government itself. As I stated, if every voter did the same the political landscape would change dramatically and quickly. Then we might have a chance in removing oppressive regulations that serve nobody except the bureaucrats that enforce them.

How about "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." Or even "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved for the States respectively, or to the people".
Between the 14th Amendment (which was never properly ratified) and the Interstate Commerce clause, the Federal Government has grown way beyond what it was intended to be.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:
Snip

-----
Just say no to drugs.
It doesn't matter who's in. Whatever the outcome of the court case, look for some new laws introduced to throw all that effort into the toilet.
HDS
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@juno.com wrote:

What Constitution?
--
Rocketry Planet hobby rocketry news, feature articles, news archive,
discussion forums, live chat, free auctions, launch calendar and the
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Snip

----------
I once had a leup too. But now it's a major deal...photos, fingerprints, storage. etc.
We tried to pass a bill (er, rather, a different rocket group did), and it got thrown out on its ear.. Seriously people, WE WILL NOT WIN... EVER. Even if they win the court case, ATFE will have a bill introduced THE NEXT DAY... One that will have a anti-terror name that NO CONGRESS person will vote against.
Jesus
When the safe explosives act was passed, that was just the first of many nails in the coffin.
HDS Nar
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Its really a sham being done on members of BOTH organizations. I ran auctions selling rocketry items, and turned the proceeds over to the legal fund. Hundreds of Dollars out of the pockets of myself and others ( I had to buy the items wholesale, then sell them retail/auctions to public). Never received a thank you from NAR/TRA but I wasn't doing it for the 'thank-you', but instead I wanted to FIGHT [sic] the government... its really a lose/lose endeavor.
So I just went, 'off paper' with my rocketry interests. BATF/NAT/TRA have no say in what, where, or when I fly. The end :)
Lunar
AZ Woody wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Its really a sham being done on members of BOTH organizations. I ran auctions selling rocketry items, and turned the proceeds over to the legal fund. Hundreds of Dollars out of the pockets of myself and others ( I had to buy the items wholesale, then sell them retail/auctions to public). Never received a thank you from NAR/TRA but I wasn't doing it for the 'thank-you', but instead I wanted to FIGHT [sic] the government... its really a lose/lose endeavor.
So I just went, 'off paper' with my rocketry interests. BATF/NAT/TRA have no say in what, where, or when I fly. The end :)
Lunar
AZ Woody wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I just read through the BATF proposed reasoning of why our rocket motors do not fall into the exemption of PADs. I would propose that any PAD would not be a device or tool without its full assembly which makes it a device or tool. For example, a car air bag is not a PAD until it is fully assembled. The propellant cartridge in itself is just like the rocket motor. Just as a rocket motor as they state, is just a cylinder with propellant in it so it is with air bag propellant cylinders. Under this type of thinking I believe that my assembled rocket is in fact a PAD. Because until I have assembled it is not complete and therefore is still in process of manufacture. Rocketry in particular HPR is in fact a tool. It is used to perform experiments and educate students and the public in the technical arena of space technology. The statement that it is not a tool because it is not held in the hand and it is not used to manufacture or cut metal is a purposefully narrow minded definition of a tool. An Air bag system is not held in the hand and it is not used to cut metal or manufacture, yet it is defined as exempt as a PAD under their definition of a tool. There are reasons I do not hold onto my rocket when it performs its usefulness as an educational and scientific tool. However, I do hold it in my hand until it is ready to launch. A construction worker does not hold his hand over the exit end of the nail gun for obvious reasons. We in turn do not hold onto the rocket at ignition for those same reasons. Nor does one hold onto his car air bag device. In fact drivers education encourages us to keep our children and our arms and hands away from such devices. So how can they be labeled a tool which one holds onto. An HPR is a tool. It is used to educate, experiment and loft experimental electronics and other scientific equipment into high altitudes for the purpose of gaining knowledge which in turn builds this nations scientists and make it a safer place. Without our scientists, who were built by rocketry, this nation would be a third world country and our security would be the same as a third world country. So to make a statement as un educated as quoting from Webster who lived long ago before the space age about the definition of a tool is as foolish as saying that a book is not a tool. In fact what they have done is to take a bunch of definitions and add them together to create the definition they were looking for and then state it as if the whole definition had been in Webster's dictionary.
To expand the definition of a tool, a book is a tool used by educators, students and the professional. Any reasonable man would agree with this definition. In court the notion of the reasonable man is all important. A reasonable man who knew anything about rocketry would know that a rocket is indeed a tool (and is not complete without the motor) just as much as a college book is a tool. Any reputable college would have some education based around the use of rocketry.
Lets educate the BATF about what a PAD is. Apparently they have their head in the sand.
KT
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@pacbell.net wrote:

snip
I agree with everything you say except for the last sentence. The ATFE does not have its collective head in the sand. Rather, it has an agenda - get HPR. It would be tempting to say that's for homeland security reasons, but since their attempts to strangle HPR began almost a decade before 9/11, such cannot be the case. And educating the ATFE is impossible. They have already demonstrated they will not, under any circumstances, listen to any reasonable or educated statement or evidence that is contrary to their intended goal. It is impossible to "educate" anyone who seeks only your destruction.
Yes we should flood the ATFE offices, national and local, with responses to the withdrawl of the PAD exemption for HPR, but expect that it will have the same effects as all our responses to earlier NPRMs - absolutely none. Therefore the only way to preserve HPR is through the courts or the congress; that is, to force them to do what they otherwise would never do. I have no idea why the ATFE is out to get HPR, but they are. Does anyone have an idea?Larry Lobdell Jr.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Please realize you're rehashing a debate that has been going on for a long, long time.
Got my L3 back in 2000, and gave up my LEUP a few months back due to storage.
I don't think hobby rocket motors are PADs. They are a propulsion system. It's not like an M motor will be used to drive a nail!
snipped-for-privacy@pacbell.net wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
AZ Woody wrote:

I think I missed most of the debate to which your refer, so I'll bite. An M motor won't be used to drive a nail, but the nail cartridge in itself is useless without the gun to shoot it. Therefore the real PAD is the nail gun that uses exempt propellant cartridges. Likewise a rocket is a Propellant Actuated Device. The motor is like the propellant cartridge and it makes possible recording temperature vs. altitude and a host of other useful things. If nail gun cartridges are exempt, then rocket propellant cartridges should be exempt also because both enable a useless "tool" to perform a useful function. Larry Lobdell Jr.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Do you buy you're motors so that they are fully assembled, or must you assemble the propellant charge? Must you do the same with a nail gun or the airbags in your car?
What is the device that is "activated" by a motor? I believe that is the rocket. In the case of the nail gun, you got to believe that a number of gov types also regulate the nail gun itself, sans cartarage.
What about air bags? Again, an "integrated usage". Don't know the law to quote, but I'll bet that if you took the propellant out and used it to "alert a driver behind you that he's tailgating", You'd probably hit some legal issues.
The problem with motors, is that while there is an "intended use", it's more like a suggestion. It can be used for other stuff..
With a charge in a nail gun, you can't use it into a gun and shoot it at someone, but with a motor, you can launch it in what we consider the "normal manner", or it can be used for some "not so nice" reasons.
While a rocket might be a pad, the motor itself is not. And to make the entire rocket "a pad", some of the abc orgs in the government would probably need to approve it...... (and you thought the RSO was rough...)
A Motor is not a pad - the entire bird might be.... (IMHO)
Larry Lobdell Jr. wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
AZ Woody wrote:

Are you seriously suggesting that one can't use a nail gun for a 'not so nice' reason???
David Erbas-White
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
-AZ Woody wrote:
-> The problem with motors, is that while there is an "intended use", it's -> more like a suggestion. It can be used for other stuff..

-> With a charge in a nail gun, you can't use it into a gun and shoot it at -> someone, but with a motor, you can launch it in what we consider the-> "normal manner", or it can be used for some "not so nice" reasons.
If you think a nail gun or air bag charge couldn't be used to harm some one, you seriously lack imagination.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Actually, you're wrong there...
By disabling the safety devices, a nail gun CAN be used to shoot nails at people. Even a pneumatic nail-gun can be used in this way - have you not seen news reports of workers getting shot with their nail-guns, because the safeties weren't operating properly...?
ANY device that employs high-energy discharges to perform useful work can be turned into destructive devices. That doesn't mean we should prohibit EVERYONE from using them.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Polytechforum.com is a website by engineers for engineers. It is not affiliated with any of manufacturers or vendors discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.