Joint Statement on BATF Litigation April 26, 2004 Web posted at: 1:24 PM EDT
(ROL Newswire) -- Hobby rocketry received some major relief from the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, last Thursday. On April 22, 2004, Judge Reggie Walton agreed with NAR/TRA's interpretation of his recent order our court case. Judge Walton said that the 1994 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) exemption granted to hobby rockets as "propellant actuated devices" (PADs) remains valid.
This means that unless and until BATFE properly promulgates a rule rescinding the 1994 PADs exemption, fully assembled rocket motors are propellant actuated devices under the law and are exempt from regulation by BATFE.
We are free to fly, at least for the time being
Judge Walton further said that if BATFE agents take any enforcement action in the field that are not consistent with this ruling, NAR and TRA should come back to his court immediately and seek an injunction against BATFE.
BATFE has already said they intend to promulgate a rule rescinding the PADs exemption, and that they believe they can have it completed by December 2004. Their recent undertaking with regard to rulemaking on the62.5 grams issue would suggest otherwise with regard to their ability to complete a rulemaking in a timely fashion.
The hearing before Judge Walton in Washington was a status hearing reviewing his March 19, 2004 order in our case. NAR/TRA Counsel Joe Egan and Marty Malsch sought clarification about the PADs portion of Judge Walton's ruling in response to member reports of BATFE agents insisting that the PAD exemption did not exist for rocket motors.
Judge Walton told NAR/TRA and BATFE to reach agreement on the specific questions raised by our lawyers, and Joe Egan sent a letter explaining the NAR/TRA position to BATFE on Friday, April 23. The text of the letter can be downloaded at(Note: this letter is a 625Kb PDF file.)
We suggest that members keep a printed copy of this letter with them any time you are engaged in rocketry activities and if a BATFE agent, who may not be fully aware of Judge Walton's decision, raises this issue, show them the letter and suggest that they contact your legal counsel.
Members who either are threatened or receive enforcement action should immediately contact NAR President Mark Bundick via email ( firstname.lastname@example.org) or at 630-293-9343 or TRA President Dick Embry via email (, email@example.com) or at520-241-1582 and provide full details of those action or threats. NAR/TRA counsel will then seek the appropriate relief from Judge Walton's court.
NAR and TRA board members are actively monitoring the Federal Register and will notify the full membership if and when BATFE issues a "Proposed Notice of Rulemaking" on the PADs issue. Members who wish to monitor the Federal Register on their own may visitand sign up to receive daily notices. Members who instead wish to periodically view BATFE rule making underway can visit to see outstanding and historical rule making activities from BATFE.
Finally, Judge Walton scheduled his next status hearing for December 19,2004, to review any BATFE progress on rule making.
We encourage members to turn their attention back to the flying field to enjoy the safe, educational and fun sport rocketry hobby, and spend less time worrying about BATFE enforcement action.
Our counsel continues to provide outstanding legal advice and support to our cause. Our thanks to Joe Egan and Marty Malsch for their extensive legal preparation and for their hospitality in welcoming us to Washington, DC.
As always, we appreciate the comments, input and support of NAR and TRA members in this fight. And, as our case proceeds, we will continue to need your financial support to build on this victory. We urge you to visitmake a donation to the Legal Defense Fund today, in whatever amount you possibly can contribute. 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."
As we have further developments, we'll report them here and in our publications, as soon as possible.
Mark Bundick, President National Association of Rocketry
Dick Embry, President Tripoli Rocketry Association
Source: National Association of Rocketry & Tripoli Rocketry Association