Of the Safe Explosives Act,
Applying Stricter Controls
on The Purchase
of Explosives in The
Continuing Fight Against Terrorism
DC - The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) announces that
on November 25, 2002, President Bush signed new legislation that restricts the
availability of explosives to felons and other persons prohibited from possessing
explosives, strengthens licensing and permitting requirements, and aids in the
fight against terrorism. This legislation, the Safe Explosives Act, amends Title
XI of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970.
Previously, a Federal permit
to purchase explosive materials was necessary if a person wished to transport,
ship, or receive explosives in interstate commerce. A permit, however, was not
necessary if a person acquired and used explosives within his or her State of
residence. The new legislation now requires that any person who wishes to transport,
ship, cause to be transported, or receive explosive materials in either interstate
or intrastate commerce must first obtain a Federal permit issued by ATF. This
requirement takes effect May 24, 2003.
The new legislation creates a new
category of permit -- a "limited permit" -- designed for the intrastate
purchaser who buys explosives infrequently and does not intend to transport or
use the explosives interstate. This permit will allow the purchaser to receive
explosive materials from an in-State explosives licensee or permittee on no more
than six (6) occasions during the period of the permit. The permit will allow
ATF to better monitor explosives commerce in an effort to enhance homeland security,
but is designed to not be overly burdensome to legitimate purchasers. The limited
permit is valid for one year and is renewable. ATF intends to set the application
fee for the limited permit at $25.
The new legislation requires that all
applicants for explosives licenses and permits submit photographs and fingerprints
so that ATF can perform thorough background checks. The legislation also requires
that all applicants submit the names and identifying information of all employees
who will possess explosive materials. In this way, ATF can conduct a thorough
background check to ensure that these individuals are not prohibited from receiving
or possessing explosives. Under previous law, no background checks were conducted
for the employees of businesses that used explosives. The business owners or managers
were required to be on record with ATF; employees such as warehousemen and drivers
were not. The new legislation enables ATF to systematically identify and conduct
background checks on such employees to reduce the risk that prohibited persons
will gain access to explosives.
The new legislation also expands the categories
of prohibited persons to include: (1) aliens (with limited exceptions); (2) persons
dishonorably discharged from the military; and (3) citizens of the United States
who have renounced their citizenship. The new prohibitions on possession of explosive
materials are effective January 24, 2003.
Finally, the new legislation
will require manufacturers and importers of explosive materials, including ammonium
nitrate, to furnish samples of these materials to ATF, as well as information
on their chemical composition or other information ATF may request. This will
assist ATF in the identification of explosives found at crime scenes. This provision
will be effective January 24, 2003.
Additionally, on January 24, 2003,
ATF will be moved to the Department of Justice and will be known as the Bureau
of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATFE).
For further information,
including proposed regulations and specific questions and answers about the effect
of the new law, check the ATF web site at: www.atf.treas.gov.