View Full Version : Example of a goverment agency trying to regulate a hobby

10-13-2006, 07:12 AM
Below is a link to a proposed ruling by the BATFE on model rocket motors.


This is equivalent to requiring model airplane fliers to get a license and a background check in order to buy and store fuel or batteries. Read it and you tell me if they are on solid ground with this or just blowing smoke.

10-13-2006, 08:05 AM
such a regulation would never fly. (no pun intended) if ATFE proposed this to the Senate and tried to govern, regulate or license the sale of hobby rocket engines or fuel, then the ammendment would get destroyed. Then every construction worker with a powder charge nail-gun, would need a federal license... And everyone who has a car or lawnmower would have to be federally licensed just to store the fuel.. To regulate the ingredients of a delivery system, I feel, is dumb... The listed items are used in sooo many things.

10-13-2006, 10:51 AM
Unless I am mistaken, one must have a license to purchase any rocket motor above that of an Estes 'D' in most (if not all) states. At one time you could not buy Estes motors in Washington State, as my 6th grade teacher (Okay, this was a LONG time ago!) had to have a special license to obtain them for our science rocket projects.

If you think 51 jumpy Senators couldn't be convinced to limit rockets with this capability: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1864398915747607299&q=high+power+rocket then you better not look too closely at legislation that HAS been passed in the name of "protecting American citizens."

Anyone with some reasonable skill and knowledge has the materials to build, equip and provide positive guidance to a device capable of knocking down an airliner (or police cruiser on the freeway, helicopter, school classroom...) at low altitude, all from materials easily purchased at hobby shops and online electronics outlets. We ALL know this. Anyone here who has watched the high-end flight videos, or HP rocket launches, or 250MPH turbine jets knows this. Anyone who has read fringe militia publications on building impact detonators and home made explosives knows this. As soon as everybody else knows this...we're buggered.

It's just a matter of time.

I work in the media. If I wanted to go to my producer with something that would scare the crap out of every unaware citizen that saw it, it would be PATHETICALLY easy to do. But, I happen to enjoy not only RC airplanes, but rocketry as well. So I won't.

But, it is just a matter of time before someone else does.

10-13-2006, 05:52 PM
such a regulation would never fly. (no pun intended)

Unfortunately this is a notice of rulemaking, not a regulation per se. They don't need to go through the legislature to put this on the books. It just goes through a public comment period. You can challenge it in the courts but that is after the fact. If they get enough valid negative comments they have the option of rewording it and resubmitting it for public comment or just dropping it.

10-13-2006, 06:01 PM
Unless I am mistaken, one must have a license to purchase any rocket motor above that of an Estes 'D' in most (if not all) states. At one time you could not buy Estes motors in Washington State, as my 6th grade teacher (Okay, this was a LONG time ago!) had to have a special license to obtain them for our science rocket projects.

Right now the minimum requirement is to be certified by a national organization in order to fly rockets with weight or propellant above a certain level. For certain classes of motors you have to have a Low Explosives User Permit (LEUP) and an explosive safe to store motors in. You also have to have permission from local government for said storage. Some motors have been using the PADS exemption to avoid this. The NPRM that I linked to above is the BATFE's attempt to remove this option.

10-14-2006, 03:43 AM
Oh, dear... Is that (snif) paranoia I smell? (snif...sniff...) Seems to be coming from that bureaucratic office...

10-14-2006, 09:08 PM
I am currently working on a two-hour National Geographic special on the IRS.

Trust me, there is nothing 'paranoid' about the extremes that the government will go through to control the population.


10-15-2006, 02:46 AM
I am currently working on a two-hour National Geographic special on the IRS.

Trust me, there is nothing 'paranoid' about the extremes that the government will go through to control the population.


Careful with that piece, Curtis! Remember Greg Palast and his recent arrest after being given permission to film near to that refinery next to the Katrina detainees! They gave him permission - then turned him in!

No, you are not paranoid- these are ugly times!


10-15-2006, 07:37 AM
That's the beauty of working in post production : ) They'll go after the producer first!

To the IRS's credit, they ARE trying to straighten up their act since the late 90's. Before that? All bets were off. But, if you ever get in tax trouble remember the National Taxpayers Advocate and give 'em a call. They are an independent branch within the IRS created by Congress to provide oversight, AND they have the capability (and often use it) to stop any IRS action dead in its tracks pending oversight review.

10-17-2006, 06:10 AM
Yeah, it was in the 90s that the IRS ripped off my Mom to the tune of 7 grand. We called them on it, they replied "So sue us" and hung up. Too late now, but as a retiree she could have used that money more carefully than the US Government, I'm sure.

10-17-2006, 08:27 AM
Well here's the latest in the saga. There is a court hearing tomorrow based on a lawsuit filed by the two national rocketry groups. At this hearing the BATFE is supposed produce evidence the Ammonium Perchlorate Composite Propellant (APCP) should be classified as an explosive substance. APCP is used in most higher power model rocket motors. Here is a link to their report.


And here are the things they did to try to "prove" their point.

Use of charged language " APCP explosively propels rockets through the atmosphere..."
Ignoring the actual design of the rocket motors tested when determining burn rates. The rocket motors they tested have a slot in the propellant. This means the propellant is burning across the length. Their data assumes the propellant burns from one end to the other.
Using a logrithmic scale on the graph in order to try and minimize the difference in burn rate between black powder and APCP.
Compared APCP to candles??? APCP burns 1000 to 20000 times faster than a candle?? Ohh scarey. ;)

10-20-2006, 03:30 AM
With their dedicated guidance we may yet have a kinder gentler rocket- but it would just sit there- since that is the main characteristic of the craft- to propell hot gases away at a high velocity and ride their Newton Arrow skyward.

Next its all those evil pointy things in your toolbox! This is the evil parallel universe, not the one with a "** piece of paper" to keep it fair...er.

The good news? A lot of candles will be safe.....r. Until they come for them...

Good luck with the Puzzle Palace.

11-01-2006, 06:18 PM
it would be nice if the ATF got some responses to this NPRM that weren't from rocket modelers. I have pasted an example email letter from the president of the National Association of Rocketry. Take a look at it and read the document I linked to at the beginning of this thread. If you could, try to personalize the email by adding some of your own comments, and maybe switching the paragraphs around. Any help would be appreciated on this. Thanks all!!! Also the deadline is Nov 9.


Sigh. . .

If nothing else, can you take a minute to send an email to:

[email protected] ([email protected])

that looks like this:

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
(insert date here)

James P. Ficaretta, Program Manager
Room 5250
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
P.O. Box 50221
Washington, DC 20091-0221

(insert your name and address here)

This letter is in response to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives' (BATFE) publication of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) published August 11, 2006, Docket No. ATF 9P; AG Order No. 2830–2006, RIN 1140–AA24.

I oppose the proposed rule and support instead the position of the National Association of Rocketry which clearly demonstrates that hobby rocket motors meet the Congressional intent of a propellant actuated device (PADS).

Additionally, I note the following problems and inconsistencies in the NPRM:

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.

There are no clear technical standards for previous PADS classifications listed in the NPRM.

Congress did not specify that mechanism, metal work or inclusion in, exclusion from or stand alone was a requirement for PADS.

ATF has not established a clear process for application, review, adjudication and appeal for parties seeking a PADS definition for their devices.

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.

BATFE 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 (http://www.brsparachutes.com/default.aspx)

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.

Sincerely yours,
(insert your name here)

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = == = = = = = = = = =

That's three whole inserts you have to do from your email system.

This is really important, folks.

Can you at least send the email?


Pretty Please?

Mark B. Bundick, President
National Association of Rocketry

11-02-2006, 05:59 AM
Change the name to National Rocketry Association; it would seem that mail from the NRA gets better response...

12-23-2006, 04:36 AM
The ATF couldn't keep those pesky extra bombs out of the Murrah Building or fire off half their cutter charges- and THESE GUYS are the EXPERTS?

Give up yer nail gun and come outta that bathroom clean!