Quantcast

Igniters

The Rocketry Forum

Help Support The Rocketry Forum:

Iceman1979

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2009
Messages
110
Reaction score
0
Ok guys, I'm confused. With the new court ruling I've seen some talk about igniters mixed in with all the fuss.

When I go to a launch and I see a comercially packaged motor reload I see an igniter in the package. I see online store like ApogeeRockets.com selling igniters as well as other online stores too.

What is the regulation on these igniters I'm hearing about? Can I not legaly buy extra igniters in case the supplied igniter does not work?

Thanks
John
 

powderburner

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
7,356
Reaction score
4
Confused--join the club.

Apparently.....and I am not a lawyer, and this is the best I can understand the situation.....apparently, the ATF has inserted itself into this matter because they CLAIM that Estes-type, electrically-powered igniters are the number one choice of bomb-makers, and therefore "igniters" must be controlled. They then appoint themselves guardians of the universe, call out igniters, and pronounce them to be the same as explosives.

Now, I cannot tell you the precise difference between Estes (and Quest) igniters and "big" igniters for mid- and high-power rocket motors, the difference that makes the smaller ones become excluded from the definition, but the ATF says the small ones are not igniters. Seems to have something to do with the quantity (and composition?) of incendiary agent that is dabbed onto the tip? Anyway, the bottom line is that Estes igniters (which are not igniters) are OK, but big igniters require a LEUP and an explosives locker and a paperwork trail and all the rest.

Here is where I choke, and I don't even use "big" igniters: If the low-power Estes ones are the type of igniters that get mis-used for criminal activities, and if the ATF wants to rule....pardon me, I mean control the overall situation, and if the ATF is going to let low-power igniters off the hook (so as not to interfere with Estes' sales, I'm sure), why bother continuing to control and classify the big igniters as explosive? It's not like if the ATF removed the controls, the big igniters would be available for sale on every street corner, the things are (relatively) rare and for all practical purposes, UNAVAILABLE as it is.

So the ATF goes merrily on its way, outlawing-but-not-really the low-power igniters that the criminals use, and outlawing-no-kidding the big igniters that we use.

Who wants to put any money on stepped up enforcement of these rules (since they can't come after rocket motors now)?
 

Iceman1979

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2009
Messages
110
Reaction score
0
Thanks for that reply.

You know, It burns me up inside when I read stuff like this. Double standards, arbitrary rules, and self proclaimed godism. I think I'm going to go work on something productive now and get my mind off of this lol.

Thanks again for taking the time to explain that to me.

John
 

quickburst

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
Messages
1,681
Reaction score
23
Here are a few facts.

This applies to commercial igniters only ...

ATF rules and regs:
1. You must possess a "Manufacturer of Low Explosives Permit" from the ATF in order to manufacture igniters.
2. You must have storage and maintain proper records of manufacture and distribution.
3. You can not distribute igniters to an individual that does not have a permit.
4. Igniters and E-Matches are one and the same.

DOT Regs:
1. Your product (igniters) must be approved by DOT for transport.
2. Packaging regulations have to be met.
3. Igniters and E-Matches are one and the same.

USPS Regulations:
1. You must have a "Letter of Authority" issued by the Office of Mailing Standards to in order to ship "igniters" via US Mail.
2. Igniters and E-Matches are one and the same.


If any company or individual is doing any of the things above without proper authority, they are breaking the law, plani and simple as that. There are no exceptions and there are no exemptions. Igniters that come with unregulated motors are not exempt, they are still igniterts and they are still regulated.

The Victory yesterday did not change any of this. Black Powder and Igniters are still on the ATF list of explosives and they are still regulated.

Period.

Read the letter for yourself.
http://www.quickburst.net/Letter From ATF.pdf

The ATF is selective with enforcement of the law and most agents/inspectors don't know an igniter from an atom bomb. Don't throw your LEUP away yet.


I for one hope the ATF is relieved to get rid of us.
 
Last edited:

UhClem

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2009
Messages
1,601
Reaction score
154
Apparently.....and I am not a lawyer, and this is the best I can understand the situation.....apparently, the ATF has inserted itself into this matter because they CLAIM that Estes-type, electrically-powered igniters are the number one choice of bomb-makers, and therefore "igniters" must be controlled. They then appoint themselves guardians of the universe, call out igniters, and pronounce them to be the same as explosives.
No. Igniters are among the things that Congress explicitly declared are explosives at 18 USC 841(d):
Except for the purposes of subsections (d), (e), (f), (g), (h), (i), and (j) of section 844 of this title, “explosives” means 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. ...
Unfortunately, Congress did not provide a definition of igniter.
Now, I cannot tell you the precise difference between Estes (and Quest) igniters and "big" igniters for mid- and high-power rocket motors, the difference that makes the smaller ones become excluded from the definition, but the ATF says the small ones are not igniters. Seems to have something to do with the quantity (and composition?) of incendiary agent that is dabbed onto the tip? Anyway, the bottom line is that Estes igniters (which are not igniters) are OK, but big igniters require a LEUP and an explosives locker and a paperwork trail and all the rest.
The only thing I have ever seen on this subject is from 1997:
While many HPR issues were created by the BATF's announcement, Pat Miller pointed out the extraordinary effort to which BATF staffer worked to avoid any adverse impacts on the model rocket hobby. He reported BATF would leave unregulated any igniters with 35-50mg of pyrogen each. That amount would be determined by averaging over 30 igniters. AP-based single-use and reloadable motors with less than 62.5 grams total propellant weight remain unregulated.
The problem is that the ATF has never published an official ruling or regulation on this exemption so they are free to change, ignore, or pretend they never said it.
 

powderburner

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
7,356
Reaction score
4
Are those the rules for commercial manufacture of igniters, for commercial sale?

Do those rules apply to individuals who make their own igniters for their own use?
 

shreadvector

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2009
Messages
9,008
Reaction score
194
As explained in the previous (now unavailable) version of TRF and on other online forums, if an exempt motor manufacturer makes and sells igniters with or as replacements for the igniters sold with the exempt motor, they are exempt.

If you simply make igniters and sell them and you do not make them or sell them to go with an exempt motor that you make, then the igniters are indeed "igniters" and regulated.

Estes, Quest and Aerotech (and other motor manufacuters) must still follow all the shipping regulations that apply.
 

quickburst

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
Messages
1,681
Reaction score
23
As explained in the previous (now unavailable) version of TRF and on other online forums, if an exempt motor manufacturer makes and sells igniters with or as replacements for the igniters sold with the exempt motor, they are exempt.

If you simply make igniters and sell them and you do not make them or sell them to go with an exempt motor that you make, then the igniters are indeed "igniters" and regulated.

Estes, Quest and Aerotech (and other motor manufacuters) must still follow all the shipping regulations that apply.
Fred

You are wrong.

Show me the exemption. There ain't one.

Show me the law that backs your statement up.
 

quickburst

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
Messages
1,681
Reaction score
23
Are those the rules for commercial manufacture of igniters, for commercial sale?

Do those rules apply to individuals who make their own igniters for their own use?
Are those the rules for commercial manufacture of igniters, for commercial sale?
Yes.

Do those rules apply to individuals who make their own igniters for their own use?
No.
 

quickburst

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
Messages
1,681
Reaction score
23
Fred

You are wrong.

Show me the exemption. There ain't one.

Show me the law that backs your statement up.
Further (from the Orange Book):

May a licensed manufacturer, importer, or dealer distribute explosive materials to nonlicensees
and nonpermittees?
No. Every person who receives explosive materials must first obtain a Federal explosives license or permit. Distribution of explosive materials to persons who do not hold a license or permit is unlawful. Also, see 18 U.S.C. 845 and 27 CFR 555.141 for exemptions. [18 U.S.C. 842(a), 842(b); 27 CFR 555.26(a), 555.106]

Read it and weep.
 

jadebox

Roger Smith
TRF Sponsor
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
5,668
Reaction score
192
Obviously, "igniter" in the law refers to igniters that are used to ignite things defined as explosives by the law. Otherwise, a number of things that just happen to have "igniter" in their name would be regulated such as propane igniters.

This would explain why igniters for small rocket motors were not regulated in the past. The "exempt" motors weren't explosives, so neither were the igniters for them. Since all APCP motors are essentially exempt now, the BATF should not be regulating our igniters at all.

Of course, this is just my opinion and no one should act on it.

We definitely need our legal counsel to look into this for us.

-- Roger
 

quickburst

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
Messages
1,681
Reaction score
23
Obviously, "igniter" in the law refers to igniters that are used to ignite things defined as explosives by the law. Otherwise, a number of things that just happen to have "igniter" in their name would be regulated such as propane igniters.

This would explain why igniters for small rocket motors were not regulated in the past. The "exempt" motors weren't explosives, so neither were the igniters for them. Since all APCP motors are essentially exempt now, the BATF should not be regulating our igniters at all.

Of course, this is just my opinion and no one should act on it.

We definitely need our legal counsel to look into this for us.

-- Roger
As David S pointed out. The Feds never bothered to define "igniter".
 

shreadvector

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2009
Messages
9,008
Reaction score
194
Fred

You are wrong.

Show me the exemption. There ain't one.

Show me the law that backs your statement up.
When I last typed this in the previous version of TRF, I said that I may have the wording slightly wrong, but that it is what I remember being explained by a motor manufacturer. The post was followed-up with one from Gary who said that I essentially had it correct.

I do not have anything to back it up in writing and I am not a manufacturer of motors, so everything I tell you (and everything everyone else posts here) is to be ignored. If someone with actual facts wishes to post them here with something to prove them as facts, great. If not, we can all keep posting what "we think we know" or what "we think we remember hearing from someone". Judges love that.....:rolleyes:
 

jadebox

Roger Smith
TRF Sponsor
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
5,668
Reaction score
192
As David S pointed out. The Feds never bothered to define "igniter".
Yes, that's why I offered a definition that seems consistent with (most of) the BATF's past actions.

-- Roger
 

Iceman1979

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2009
Messages
110
Reaction score
0
Here are some things I found
US Code 18 Section 842 said:
(b)] It shall be unlawful for any licensee or permittee to knowingly distribute any explosive materials to any person other than—
(1) a licensee;
(2) a holder of a user permit; or
(3) a holder of a limited permit who is a resident of the State where distribution is made and in which the premises of the transferor are located.
US Code 18 Section 841(c)(d) said:
(c) “Explosive materials” means explosives, blasting agents, and detonators.
(d) Except for the purposes of subsections (d), (e), (f), (g), (h), (i), and (j) of section 844 of this title, “explosives” means 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 Attorney General shall publish and revise at least annually in the Federal Register a list of these and any additional explosives which he determines to be within the coverage of this chapter. For the purposes of subsections (d), (e), (f), (g), (h), and (i) of section 844 of this title, the term “explosive” is defined in subsection (j) of such section 844.
Hope this helps
 

jadebox

Roger Smith
TRF Sponsor
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
5,668
Reaction score
192
..."explosives" means 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.
That's probably where the confusion (within the BATF) started. They may have interpreted that to mean that all igniters are regulated. But, by the above definition, only igniters that "function by explosion" as their "primary or common purpose" are "explosives."

-- Roger
 

bobkrech

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
Messages
8,351
Reaction score
26
As David S pointed out. The Feds never bothered to define "igniter".
Dave

As I reread this thread and reread the statute, I believe that a rocket motor igniter is excluded from the definition of explosives by 844(j) and can not classified as an "explosive igniter", and therefore should be exempt from BATFE regulation.

Now that APCP has been declared as not an explosive, and not to be included on the explosives list, a rocket motor igniter, which burns (they do not explode) is itself not an explosive, and by use, function and purpose is not activating an explosive, so logically if it does not function by explosion and is not activating an explosive or explosive device, is should not be a regulated device.

844 (j) For the purposes of subsections (d), (e), (f), (g), (h), and (i) of this section and section 842 (p), the term “explosive” means gunpowders, powders used for blasting, all forms of high explosives, blasting materials, fuzes (other than electric circuit breakers), detonators, and other detonating agents, smokeless powders, other explosive or incendiary devices within the meaning of paragraph (5) of section 232 of this title, and any chemical compounds, mechanical mixture, or device that contains any oxidizing and combustible units, or other ingredients, in such proportions, quantities, or packing that ignition by fire, by friction, by concussion, by percussion, or by detonation of the compound, mixture, or device or any part thereof may cause an explosion.

I would argue from the above section that rocket motor igniters are: a.) are electrically activated incendiary devices that do not function by explosion and b.) are manufactured, sold and used to initiate the combustion of a non-explosive material. As such they should not be regulated.

Bob
 

jadebox

Roger Smith
TRF Sponsor
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
5,668
Reaction score
192
I would argue from the above section that rocket motor igniters are: a.) are electrically activated incendiary devices that do not function by explosion and b.) are manufactured, sold and used to initiate the combustion of a non-explosive material. As such they should not be regulated.
Exactly ... but, Dave is going to need more than just our interpretation before he drops the LEUP requirement to purchase his igniters. Since he probably can't afford an attorney (and removing the restrictions on igniters is a benefit to us all), I think the attorneys for the NAR and Tripoli should give their opinion on the matter and advise us on the next step.

-- Roger
 

davel

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
544
Reaction score
7
Assuming (and I know at this time it is a big assumption) we succeed in recovering some of our legal expenses, perhaps it would be a good use of those funds to take care of things like this. Use our experienced legal team to get the definition of 'ignitor' clarified to our benefit, ect.
 

UhClem

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2009
Messages
1,601
Reaction score
154
As I reread this thread and reread the statute, I believe that a rocket
motor igniter is excluded from the definition of explosives by 844(j)
and can not classified as an "explosive igniter", and therefore should
be exempt from BATFE regulation.
There are two problems here.

The first is that the definition at 18 USC 844(j) has strictly limited scope (as detailed within 844(j)) and has absolutely nothing to do with the definition of explosives at 18 USC 841(d) which covers the rest of 18 USC Chapter 40. So even if you could argue that igniters do not meet the definition at 844(j) it has no impact on their regulatory status.

The second is that igniters do in fact meet the definition at 844(j) (so does APCP) because it "may" cause an explosion. This is quite different from the "primary and common purpose of which is to function by explosion" standard at 841(d) but is a problem only if you commit one of the listed crimes using these materials. (murder, arson, and other assorted mayhem)
 

jadebox

Roger Smith
TRF Sponsor
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
5,668
Reaction score
192
There are two problems here.

The first is that the definition at 18 USC 844(j) has strictly limited scope (as detailed within 844(j)) and has absolutely nothing to do with the definition of explosives at 18 USC 841(d) which covers the rest of 18 USC Chapter 40. So even if you could argue that igniters do not meet the definition at 844(j) it has no impact on their regulatory status.
As I mentioned before, our igniters don't fall under the defintion in 18 USC 841(d) either since their "primary and common purpose" is not to "function by explosion."

The second is that igniters do in fact meet the definition at 844(j) (so does APCP) because it "may" cause an explosion.
With that broad of an interpretation, party balloons and sweaters would meet the definition. Together they can produce sparks of static electricity that "may" cause an explosion in the right environment.

-- Roger
 

UhClem

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2009
Messages
1,601
Reaction score
154
As I mentioned before, our igniters don't fall under the defintion in 18 USC 841(d) either since their "primary and common purpose" is not to "function by explosion."
It matters not the tiniest little bit how they function because they are explicitly listed as being explosives:
...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
It is clear that there are at least two classes of igniters: those like the Estes Solar that are for some reason exempt, and others that are not. The ATF has published no guidance on what divides the two groups. That is the problem.

With that broad of an interpretation, party balloons and sweaters would meet the definition. Together they can produce sparks of static electricity that "may" cause an explosion in the right environment.
Of course. But the definition is only applicable to a short list of crimes. If it ever becomes an issue you have bigger problems.
 

jadebox

Roger Smith
TRF Sponsor
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
5,668
Reaction score
192
I still don't accept that the statue, as it reads in English, explicitly defines all igniters as explosives either linguistically or logically, but I've been told that in legal parlance that is what it does.

Nevertheless, since our "motor starters" have nothing to do with explosives, the BATF has no justification for regulating them.

-- Roger
 

quickburst

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
Messages
1,681
Reaction score
23
I guess this tells the tale.

"Fourth, this Court decision did not change the regulated status of other sport rocketry items such as black powder, some kinds of igniters, etc. To the extent that any of these items previously required licenses and magazine storage, nothing has changed. Nor does the decision affect licensing and regulation by other federal, state or local government agencies."

"Some igniters" ?? I suppose this means self manufactured igniters are legal.

Doesn't matter. As long as the ATF continues to practice "selective enforcement" my goose is cooked. I will still require permits to purchase some of my products.
 

kramer714

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
Messages
695
Reaction score
10
be careful here...

Logical does not = legal

Could someone formally ask Tripoli and/or NAR for a legal interpretation of the laws clearly laying out;

1) can I posses an igniter with pyrogen on it?
2) Is there a limit to how much pyrogen an igniter can have on it?
3) Can I make igniters for personal use without a permit?
4) do I have to store them in a 'special manner'?
5) Can i transport them to a launch without any permits?
6) can I cross state lines with them?
7) Can I modify a commercially available igniter?
8) Can I share igniters with some one else, not for money (give em away)?
9) Can I sell an igniter that I made myself?
10) are there any limits on how many igniters I can have?
11) is there a demarcation in size (how defined?) that determines if an igniter is regulated?
12) Are there certain formulas for igniters that are restricted?
13) Can I buy igniters from a licened manufacturer if I don't hold a permit?


Please!!! I am not looking for opinions on any of these questions, what I am looking for is a letter from a lawyer from NAR/ Tripoli, and / or statement from NAR/Tripoli, BATFE giving yes no answers.

With the letter (and yes I know this is not something I could use in Court most likely), I have at least a guideline I can follow, and a piece of paper I can hand a cop / fireman, if I am asked what I am doing with igniters.

simple eh?

Mike Kramer
NAR level 3
 
Last edited:

powderburner

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
7,356
Reaction score
4
I would like to see those answers too (from an authoritative "legal" source)

I'm not holding my breath, though, because I'm not sure that these answers exist. It is my understanding that you (and I) would be asking for more definition than was provided (or even thought about?) when the laws were written.

I don't like to proceed using my own best understanding of the law; I fully realize how much weight that would hold in front of a judge. But since no one else seems able to provide answers to qstns such as those you posed, it would indeed seem wise to get these things resolved.
 

jadebox

Roger Smith
TRF Sponsor
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
5,668
Reaction score
192
Please!!! I am not looking for opinions on any of these questions, what I am looking for is a letter from a lawyer from NAR/ Tripoli, and / or statement from NAR/Tripoli, BATFE giving yes no answers.
That's what I've been asking for, also. I think it's ridiculous that the BATF can arbitrarily decide to regulate some things that are called "igniters" while not regulating others. And I can't believe it was the intent of Congress for the BATF to regulate everything that can be labelled an "igniter."

It's my opinion that you have to define "igniters" in the statute in context to mean "igniters used for igniting explosives." After all, you have to define the phrase "black powder" in context. If you don't read it in the context of "things that go boom," then the statute would apply to any black powders ... and iron filings would be regulated by the BATF.

And things have now changed. In light of the APCP ruling, our igniters are no longer used to ignite explosives.

But, my opinion doesn't mean much. I'd like to hear the opinion of our legal team - not only about whether they agree with any of our interpretations of the laws and rules, but about what we might be able to do to get some relief on this issue.

Hopefully, we'll be able to recover our legal costs from the current case so we can use the money for efforts such as finding a way for use to legally acquire and use igniters without excessive regulation.

-- Roger
 

privateer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2009
Messages
83
Reaction score
0
No. Igniters are among the things that Congress explicitly declared are explosives at 18 USC 841(d):
Without being an expert or even studying the subject, I think it is pretty clear that the common sense interpretation of the law is "igniter" as something to "set off" the explosive proper; for example a blasting cap. Not that a common sense reading counts for anything. :)

Otherwise, a spark of electricity can "ignite" the dust in a grain elevator. Does that make a spark an "ignitor"?
 
Top