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

This message will report on the BATFE?s 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
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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
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
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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
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, we?ll 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
Reply to
Planet News
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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!
Reply to
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.
Reply to
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.
Reply to
Larry Lobdell Jr.
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:
Reply to
AZ Woody
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.
Reply to
Larry Lobdell Jr.
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:
Reply to
AZ Woody
Just exactly what do you think 'propellant' (as in, Propellant Actuated Device) is used for? An 'expulsion' system?
'Propellant' is used for 'propulsion'. I don't know how it could be any clearer...
David Erbas-White
Reply to
David Erbas-White
Is there, or is there not a bit of a difference between the charge that will drive a nail into a 2x4 and an M motor?
What is being propelled? and by what? In a nail gun, the charge is useless without a nail gun (approved by a number of gov agencies).
What about an airbag? What would you do with it, if it wasn't in a car?
Now, an M motor.. what could be done with that? Is there a specific device that it can be used in?
Too many people think "pad" only implies "propellant activated" but forget the "device" part!
David Erbas-White wrote:
Reply to
AZ Woody
ATF is probably thinking the rocket can be used to propel explosive charge for bad purpose... you know even if it makes no sense they know they are doing their job to stop terrorists.
Reply to
tai fu
-> 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.
Reply to
Ok I read it and it doesn't surprise me. Actually I predict that the GOVERNMENT will EVENTUALLY win its case. This is what happens when MOST American's sell their civil rights and self governence for FOOD STAMPS, MEDICARE, MEDICADE, SOCIAL SECURITY, ENTITLEMENTS, HOUSING, CHEESE HANDOUTS ... hahahaha YOUR government is screwing you people and YOU have no one to blame except yourselves!
I don't feel sorry for the situation you find yourselves in. There is NO ONE to blame expect the [below]Average United States citizen. I am sorry. Yes I gave hundreds of dollars to the legal fund back in the late 1990s ... what a waste of my time and money. I should have just kept the money. Oh well, lets all get ready to vote for the Demicans, or is it the Republicrats? You take sides like stupid fools, but in the end, BOTH sides of the government work to screw you ... hahahahahaha! OMG, I'm a republican and I see the country's needs better than you do ... I'm a democrat and I see the country's needs better than you do ... what a F*&King joke!
I'm a politician and I see MY needs better than anyone :) You people have fools for leaders, so you DESERVE foolish leadership! HAHAHAHA ... what a JOKE of a citizenry we have in America today ... what a joke :(
Is there a solution? Yes, a constitutional caucus and a RESETTING of the government ... but oh no we can't have that because then I will lose my free cheese, social security, Medicare/Medicade, Food Stamps, ect.. Nah I would rather live as a citizen-slave than as a free man... citizen-slavery is easier :) Go slavery!
Reply to
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.
Reply to
Len Lekx
If so, would only a fully assembled rocket qualify as a PAD? According to the ATF a tool has to be hand held (I'm sure THEIR tools are!).
I tried to do some research into rocket propelled line throwers. Are these readily available? Do they require permits? Can you purchase spare rockets without a permit? Are they always handheld? Same question about rocket flares. They certainly aren't fireworks. Are they always handheld?
Reply to
Alex Mericas
I know that the BATFE think this company has PADs;
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Toying with the idea of calling them up to see what they're using for a motor.
Ted Novak TRA#5512 IEAS#75
Reply to
Just got off the phone with them. In a nutshell, they get the motors from Colorado. I didn't press too much into finding who manufactured the motors but I think it would be a safe bet that it wasn't Estes :)
Wasn't Vulcan/Scott Dixon based in Colorado?
Ted Novak TRA#5512 IEAS#75
Reply to
I'm sure that is EXACTLY what's been going on for the past decade. The problem is that the BATFE isn't chartered to regulate DELIVERY SYSTEMS. It's chartered to regulate EXPLOSIVES, of which APCP is NOT. Delivery is in the hands of the DOT.
If they want to regulate devices that could be used to deliver explosives or other WMD, then they need to regulate Ryder trucks, vans, commercial aircraft, donkeys, etc, and NOT our models.
Remember, the only time person or property has been damaged by HPR is when the BATFE stupidly burned up their own van while trying to unsuccessfully show that our rockets could be used to shoot at targets.
Reply to
Bob Kaplow
Neither an air bag nor a BRS chute deployment system is hand held.
Are any civilian aircraft equiped with ejection seats? Are those considered PADs?
Virtually the same RMS motors we use were used in Iraq to clear mine fields.
Reply to
Bob Kaplow

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