OSHA Visits Wonderland


Published to cricket-chirping silence in the Federal Register on April 13, 2007 was a rule proposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to govern the manufacture, transport, and distribution of explosives.

The Alice-in-Wonderland aspect is that the rule includes small arms ammunition and reloading components like smokeless propellant and small arms primers in its definition of u201Cexplosives.u201D If the rule were implemented as written, it would effectively eliminate the manufacture, transport, wholesaling and retailing of ammunition in the United States.

You read that correctly.

For years anti-private-gun-ownership zealots have wished that another head of the federal regulatory hydra, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, would u201Cban gunsu201D as articles too dangerous for mere civilian mortals to handle or own. Apparently they are getting their wish, instead, from OSHA under the notion that firearm ammunition cartridges are so unstable and explosive that anyone storing or selling them would have to insure (by search if necessary) that no one carrying matches, a lighter, or any other source of flame or sparks approached within 50 feet in all directions. This is but one of several requirements that would make it impossible to make or sell ammunition.

The proposed rule asks for comments, including specifically whether small arms ammunition and components should be included in the new rules with dynamite, TNT, ammonium nitrate, and other blasting agents.

Despite this request, one has to wonder if the persons writing these rules are intentionally proposing a backdoor ammunition ban or are as disconnected from reality as is our current President, who we may recall was amazed and astounded when he first saw a barcode scanner at a supermarket checkout line a few years ago.

Anyone who shoots firearms or, especially, reloads firearm ammunition knows that ammunition and its components are not remotely similar to explosives. Ammunition cartridges are practically impossible to set off without basically crushing them with a hammer or cooking them at a relatively high temperature. Even then, cartridges that are so "cooked" don’t fire the bullet or "explode;’ the brass cartridge case simply ruptures. The proposed rule would have us believe that shoppers at Wal-mart routinely set off chain-reaction explosions at the gun counter through negligent use of their Zippos, and that UPS trucks carrying ammunition are blowing up on every highway overpass, killing their drivers.

Even in the very rare event that ammunition or its components are involved in a fire, explosions are virtually unknown. These components burn quite well, but only primers are explosive and even then it would require quite a quantity of them to constitute a significant concern. Given the rarity of such events, a sweeping change to the legal constraints on their manufacture and trade is sheer lunacy.

In light of the gravity of this proposal, one might have expected it to be newsworthy in the Main Stream Media…but of course this is false. If a rule proposing to ban Gays and Lesbians from residences within 1000 feet of a school were proposed in some obscure publication there’d be headlines for weeks, but not when it comes to anything that would effectively starve guns of ammo.

The rule, if adopted, would likely cripple the provision of ammunition to the Department of Defense as well as to police organizations, so there’s a good chance that changes will be made. It is not difficult to imagine, however, that exceptions could be made leaving private citizens to bear the full effects of the rule.

Examples abound of regulatory bureaucrats dumping horrid "laws" on citizens while spineless legislators wring their hands in anguish, frozen in their impotence. In Illinois you can get a $375 fine for going over 45 MPH in a construction zone even if no workers are present, and while legislators have publicly cried that they didn’t intend for this magnified fine to apply at such times, there is no move to "fix" it.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, an industry trade group, has a very nice discussion of the rule and a model letter for submission should one believe petitioning unelected regulatory bureaucrats is the role of a good citizen. Unless extended, the comment period closes on July 12!

Here, immediately after the songs and the fireworks and the platitudinous speeches of Independence Day, is great time to be reminded that our national government, powerful enough to give some people everything they want, is more than powerful enough to strip us of everything we have. As long as our friends and neighbors retain their faith in the Church of Federal Omniscience, nameless and faceless Civil "Servants" will continue to propose stripping us of what few liberties we retain.

Let the sheeple sing! "…and I’m proud to be an American ’cause at least I know I’m free."

July 6, 2007

David Calderwood [send him mail] a businessman, artist, and author of the novel Revolutionary Language, selected January 2000 Freedom Book of the Month at