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Well-Known Member
Aug 15, 2012
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Originally posted on rmr by Mark Bundick, NAR President:

Joint Statement on BATF Litigation - April 24, 2004

Hobby rocketry received some major relief from the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, last Thursday. On April 22, 2004, Judge Reggie Walton agreed with NAR/TRA's interpretation of his recent order our court case. Judge Walton said that the 1994 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) exemption granted to hobby rockets as "propellant actuated devices" (PADs) remains valid.
This means that unless and until BATFE properly promulgates a rule rescinding the 1994 PADs exemption, fully assembled rocket motors are propellant actuated devices under the law and are exempt from regulation by BATFE.

We are free to fly, at least for the time being

Judge Walton further said that if BATFE agents take any enforcement action in the field that are not consistent with this ruling, NAR and TRA should come back to his court immediately and seek an injunction against BATFE.
BATFE has already said they intend to promulgate a rule rescinding the PADs exemption, and that they believe they can have it completed by December 2004. Their recent undertaking with regard to rulemaking on the 62.5 grams issue would suggest otherwise with regard to their ability to complete a rulemaking in a timely fashion.
The hearing before Judge Walton in Washington was a status hearing reviewing his March 19, 2004 order in our case. NAR/TRA Counsel Joe Egan and Marty Malsch sought clarification about the PADs portion of Judge Walton's ruling in response to member reports of BATFE agents insisting that the PAD exemption did not exist for rocket motors.
Judge Walton told NAR/TRA and BATFE to reach agreement on the specific questions raised by our lawyers, and Joe Egan sent a letter explaining the NAR/TRA position to BATFE on Friday, April 23. The text of the letter can be downloaded at
(Note: this letter is a 625Kb PDF file.)
We suggest that members keep a printed copy of this letter with them any time you are engaged in rocketry activities and if a BATFE agent, who may not be fully aware of Judge Walton's decision, raises this issue, show them the letter and suggest that they contact your legal counsel.
Members who either are threatened or receive enforcement action should immediately contact NAR President Mark Bundick via email ([email protected]) or at 630-293-9343 or TRA President Dick Embry via email (,[email protected]) or at 520-241-1582 and provide full details of those action or threats. NAR/TRA counsel will then seek the appropriate relief from Judge Walton's court.
NAR and TRA board members are actively monitoring the Federal Register and will notify the full membership if and when BATFE issues a "Proposed Notice of Rulemaking" on the PADs issue. Members who wish to monitor the Federal Register on their own may visit: and sign up to receive daily notices. Members who instead wish to periodically view BATFE rule making underway can visit:
to see outstanding and historical rule making activities from BATFE.
Finally, Judge Walton scheduled his next status hearing for December 19, 2004, to review any BATFE progress on rule making.
We encourage members to turn their attention back to the flying field to enjoy the safe, educational and fun sport rocketry hobby, and spend less time worrying about BATFE enforcement action.
Our counsel continues to provide outstanding legal advice and support to our cause. Our thanks to Joe Egan and Marty Malsch for their extensive legal preparation and for their hospitality in welcoming us to Washington, DC.
As always, we appreciate the comments, input and support of NAR and TRA members in this fight. And, as our case proceeds, we will continue to need your financial support to build on this victory. We urge you to visit: and make a donation to the Legal Defense Fund today, in whatever amount you possibly can contribute. Your support and generosity will be recognized and acknowledged, and you'll be able to say "I supported the fight for an unregulated sport rocket hobby."
As we have further developments, we'll report them here and in our publications, as soon as possible.

Mark Bundick, President
National Association of Rocketry
so this means a rocket motor of any size, once assembled, is excempt from needing any permitS?
That's a very good question. Does this mean we at least have "Easy Access" or is it exempted all the way up to L3 motors?
This, and Tripoli Mid-Ohio finally getting a summer launch field, is fantastically good news.
More incentive to hurry up and certify! L2 by September!!!:D
The letter reads: that fully assembled sport rocket motors remain qualified as PADs regardless of propellant mass.
Great! Looks like I need to take advantage of that buy four loads and get a free case deal!... wait, no cash :( bummer.
So reloads still are classified as "non-PAD" if they are over 62.5g? I can't understand all this legal mumbo-jumbo. is this really good news or not? I'm not planning on buying SU high-power anytime soon...
This is kinda good news.

As everyone should know, BATFE is absolutely wrong on the technical merits of their case. That's irrelevant. The judge ruled that they have the authority to regulate APCP. Done, end of story. However, the judge said that they didn't follow the proper procedures so we still have the PADS exemption. So what? BATFE is just going to jump through the hoops and remove the PAD exemption. The big difference is that this buys us some time to pursue a legislative solution. A legislative solution in an election year just isn't going to happen. Now that we have some breathing room while BATFE scrambles to close the PADS loophole, the election year winds down and the legislative climate looks more promising.