We've spent a fair amount of time on this ng ranting about the BATFE,
and rightly so. Their intentions are more destructive to those pesky
certain inalienable rights than they are beneficial to national
security. Surely one could argue that launching a rocket a few thousand
feet into the wild blue yonder could contribute to that increasingly
hindered pursuit of happiness. But we are not alone. The following is
taken from newsmax.com, and is dated 5/19/03. It's interesting reading,
unless your name is Tom Ridge.
New Law Could***Out July 4th Fireworks
The U.S. Congress and the Bureau of ***, Tobacco and Firearms are
about to cause the skies over America to be a little darker this Fourth
In just a few days, a new law takes effect that could force communities
to call off that most American of American celebrations - Independence
Tom White, spokesman for the Association of American Railroads (AAR),
told NewsMax that individual railroads have decided complying with the
Safe Explosives Act, sponsored by Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wisc., and signed by
President Bush last November, is too expensive.
The railroads simply don't make enough money to cover the costs of
compliance with the new law as it's being interpreted by the Bureau of
***, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF).
As a result, firework, shipments are being shifted to trucks, which
could boost each shipment cost by about $8,000 per container, just
enough to "make the difference between small communities either having a
fireworks display or having to pass on it this year, according to Fred
Grucci of the family-owned Fireworks by Grucci, based on New Yorks Long
Moreover, the shift to trucks - intended to thwart terrorists - could in
fact increase that danger. Highway hijacking is, if anything, easier
than hijacking a huge freight train.
AAR President Edward R. Hambergers letter of protest to Attorney
General John Ashcroft, with copies to other top government and law
enforcement officials, apparently has fallen on deaf ears.
Hamberger - the Washington voice for the nations largest railroads -
complains in effect that the railroad industry would have to create its
own FBI in order to comply with the BATF regulations under the new law.
The railroad - whose industrial plant is spread out all over the
landscape - would be responsible for making sure no single person or
company involved in the shipments was ever convicted of a felony or
dishonorably discharged from the armed services, or is an alien.
Taking the last point first, Hamberger notes that over 10 percent of the
explosives imported to the U.S. arrive by rail on Canadian railroads
using Canadian train crews (aliens).
In the 175-year history of the railroad industry, some railroads brought
up on "robber baron" charges in the 19th century are still in business
today - either under an original name or through their successor or
White told NewsMax correspondent Wes Vernon that under the law such
convictions "could be from any time in the past and dont have to have a
security or safety relevance."
And it doesnt stop there.
Not only must the railroads be responsible for the record of every rail
employee, they are also to be held accountable for every customer in the
export of explosives and every employee of that customer who has
anything to do with the shipment.
Hamberger, in a classic understatement, calls this "problematic."
Bottom line: With cities and towns in financially dire straits and
fireworks shipments being legislated out of the realm of affordibility,
not to mention legality, be prepared for a possible fireworks-free
Independence day in Anytown, USA.
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