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Saturday, July 21, 2007

When is a brainstorm more dangerous than a lightning storm?

by Steve Sorensen
(Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, Warren, PA., July 21, 2007.)
What the bureaucrats at OSHA would like you to believe
is that every loaded cartridge is a bomb, ready to go off.
When it's a brainstorm in the federal bureaucracy. On April 13, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) proposed reclassifying ammunition, gunpowder, and primers as high explosives. Their proposals would have changed the way ammunition and handloading components (powder and primers) can be stored, sold and transported, and would have made it virtually impossible to operate any gun store, firing range, or gunsmith shop, and perhaps even to employ someone in your home.

Apparently no one at OSHA understands how gunpowder functions. Modern smokeless gunpowder is not an explosive. It burns progressively. Kind of like the sparklers people let their kids play with at family picnics. One burning granule lights a few others, and they light a bunch more, until it's all burned up. Burned gunpowder will leave a black smudge – like those little black "snakes" that I burned on the sidewalk when I was a kid.

What the bureaucrats at OSHA believe – and would like you to believe – is that gunpowder is very unstable. And that every loaded cartridge is a bomb ready to go off. They're so frightened of ammunition that they want every store everywhere that sells even a small amount of ammunition to evacuate during any lightning storm. Yep. That's what a brainstorm in the federal bureaucracy would have required.

So, when you're buying your groceries at Wal-Mart and a thunderbumper passes through, the store manager would have to shoo you out the front door, along with all of its employees – because Wal-Mart sells ammunition at its sporting goods counter. Leave your shopping carts behind, folks.

Never mind that lightning is no threat to ammunition. Never has been. Never mind that lightning has never caused the ammunition for sale in any sporting goods store anywhere to explode, or otherwise ignite.

Never mind that the obedient sheep herded into the parking lot during a lightning storm are in a far more dangerous place than they would be if they gathered around the ammunition counter inside the store. Never mind that the new rules will make no one safer. They cannot cause even a minor reduction in the number of explosions of ammo in commercial establishments due to lightning storms because that number is already zero.

OSHA's proposed new rules also would have made it illegal for a sporting goods store that sells firearms to sell ammunition for those firearms inside the same building. Either the guns or the ammo – one of them has gotta go. Maybe OSHA would want Wal-Mart to construct a little shack in the parking lot and sell ammo from there.

The proposed rules would have meant every licensed gunsmith would be breaking the law by having even a handful of loaded rounds in his shop. Every gunsmith would have been prevented from performing many routine functions.

Further, the new OSHA rules would have added burdensome, even impossible requirements for those who handle ammunition in the normal course of business. The simple, everyday example of delivery drivers clearly illustrates this.

A Fed Ex driver could never leave ammunition in his truck unattended. That means he'd be breaking the law if he leaves the ammunition you ordered from Cabelas in his truck while he walks up to my front door with my new hunting boots. Would he have to carry your ammo with him in order to keep from leaving it unattended? If a lightning storm passes through, would he be forced to evacuate the truck?

Actually, the answer to that one is easy. Under the new rules you'd probably no longer be able to order a box of bullets from Cabelas. So if you live out in the boondocks 20 miles from the nearest sporting goods store, you'll have to fill your gas tank and drive 40 miles. But check the forecast before you go. If it calls for lightning, the store might be closed.

Gun owners have dodged a bullet because OSHA has abandoned – for now – its unreasonable proposals.

Keep your ear to the ground on this one, folks. If you're a hunter, or a trap shooter, or a homeowner who owns a firearm, OSHA may return with proposals that will affect your ability to engage in your sport or defend your home. And you can bet your granddaddy's double barrel that someone buried deep in the bureaucracy is trying to think up rules to so tightly control your ammunition as to make your firearms useless.


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