=== part 1 of 4 =in all fairness, I believe that the vast majority of BATFE personnel are
patriotic Americans, and
are simply doing their jobs as defined by their superiors
I can understand how in the aftermath of 9/11, where several agencies
were caught napping, everyone
in intelligience and law enforcement are saying "fool me once, shame on
you, fool me twice, shame
on me", and are determined to be proactive.
the problem arises when the efforts to be proactive results in such
extensive loss of freedom that
we wonder what "way of life" is still intact to be protected? It has
always been a especially
tough call in the area of arms and munitions, where the right to bear
arms is under attack from the
public clamoring for crime reduction. Fortunately the NRA is a powerful
lobby that has been
successful to some degree in pushing back attempts to regulate private
arms ownership out of
in the case of rocketry, our experience is that many BATFE field offices
have had insufficient or
inconsistent direction from their superiors, and much has been left to
interpretation by individual
agents. This has been especially evident in the broad spectrum of what
is deemed "acceptable"
storage magazines during field visits.
but to the credit of the field agents, during these visits adhoc remarks
pass and we discover that
most field agents, like us, are bewildered at why hobby-grade rocket
Perchlorate Composite Propellant) is being regulated as an explosive,
when it tests objectively as
either a flammable solid or even less hazardous, as a unregulated
plastic. We don't see permits,
fingerprints and background checks, and plywood-lined steel boxes with
two padlocks with 1/2 inch
shackles located 75 feet from any inhabited building or public road in
order to store road flares.
Yet this is what the inclusion of APCP on the BATFE explosives list has
caused. This despite the
fact that APCP does not meet the definition of explosive set in law by
"... any chemical compound mixture, or device, the primary or common
purpose of which is to
function by explosion ..."
the Black Powder used in parachute ejection charges (in minute amounts,
typically 1-2 grams per
charge) is exempt from all storage and permit requirements as long as it is
"... intended to be used solely for sporting, recreational, or cultural
of which amateur rocketry is both sporting and recreational.
Furthermore, rockets and rocketry
materials are exempt from regulation by virtue of rockets being
"propellant actuated devices".
although previously acknowledging these exemptions in law, in the last
few years, the BATFE has
autonomously and unilaterally decided that none of these exemptions
apply any longer, and have
insisted on the permits, background checks, and storage requirements I
the above actions by the BATFE provoked a lawsuit brought against them
by the Tripoli Rocketry
Association and the National Association of Rocketry. This suit is still
in the preliminary stages.