By Jon Dougherty
© 2002 WorldNetDaily.com
Rumors circulating among gun-rights advocates that a new law requires reloading hobbyists and firearms owners to obtain a license before they can buy gunpowder or ammunition are false, experts and officials say.
Some gun owners have expressed concerned that provisions of the Safe Explosives Act, signed in November by President Bush, could be used to require a license to purchase gunpowder and, hence, all small-arms ammunition.
However, officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms the federal agency responsible for enforcing provisions of the new law say the critics are mistaken.
Under federal law, the term "explosive" applies to "any chemical compound mixture, or device, the primary or common purpose of which is to function by explosion; the term includes, but is not limited to, dynamite and other high explosives, black powder, pellet powder, initiating explosives, detonators, safety fuses, squibs, detonating cord, igniter cord, and igniters
"The Feds have passed a law, early next year requiring a $25 license for users of gunpowder to purchase it up to 6 times in a year," said one post on a gun-discussion thread at TimeBomb2000.com.
"If 'pellet powder' is by definition 'gunpowder' then I agree, this new law applies," said another.
But F. Jenell Johnson, a spokeswoman for ATF, told WorldNetDaily those concerns were unfounded. She said that many shooting enthusiasts were initially concerned about the new law as it pertains to black powder.
"The law says the new provisions do not apply with respect to commercially manufactured black powder in quantities not to exceed fifty pounds," she said. Any quantities over 50 pounds in a single year, however, do require an ATF license, she said.
In an e-mail alert to members, the National Rifle Association also discounted gun owners' concerns.
"Rest assured, this law does not require a license for buyers of reloading components," said the alert. "In fact, existing federal explosive laws and regulations make exceptions for black and smokeless powders, and the new law did not amend those exceptions."
The nation's largest and most recognizable gun organization also said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, incoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, "worked closely with NRA to ensure that no language was included that would jeopardize hand loaders or black powder shooters."
"Smokeless powder designed for use in small arms is considered an 'ammunition component' rather than an explosive, and black powder is not considered an explosive when sold in quantities of less than 50 pounds and used for sporting, recreational, or cultural purposes in antique, replica, or muzzle loading firearms," said the NRA alert. "Under these conditions, neither are subject to existing explosive laws or to new requirements in the Act."
ATF lawyers confirmed the NRA's interpretation, Johnson said.
Much of the new law takes effect May 24, 2003, but portions of it become effective Jan. 24. Next month, for instance, three new categories of persons will be prohibited from possessing or receiving explosives: aliens, those discharged dishonorably from the military, and anyone who has renounced his or her U.S. citizenship.
It will affect all current federal explosives licensees and permittees, officials said, as well as "anyone who wishes to receive or possess explosives in interstate or intrastate commerce."
The law requires purchasers to obtain a "limited permit" to buy explosive materials. Under the new law, purchasers may receive explosive materials on no more than six occasions during the license period.
The ATF said that unlike a user permit or a license, the limited permit will not allow the holder to acquire or to transport explosive materials outside his or her state of residence.
In order to apply, potential applicants will be required to submit to the BATF identifying information, such as fingerprints and photographs.
"All employees who possess explosive materials on behalf of a licensee or permittee will be required to submit only identifying information," said one assessment.
The agency will be required to inspect physically all licensees and permittees at least once every three calendar years for compliance with federal explosive rules.
Jon E. Dougherty is a staff reporter and columnist for WorldNetDaily.
Looks like the camel did indeed get it's nose in the door! Unfortunately I order for a couple of clubs and often exceed the amount mentioned in a year. I will no longer do this, which means a bunch of shooters are not going to be getting BP anymore in my area. I will NOT have the federal camel snooping in my home!