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Labor Department Announces It Will Revise Overreaching Osha Explosives Rule

Friday, July 20, 2007

Earlier this week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced it will significantly revise a recent proposal for new “explosives safety” regulations that caused serious concern among gun owners.  OSHA had originally set out to update workplace safety regulations, but the proposed rules included restrictions with which very few gun shops, sporting goods stores, shippers, or ammunition dealers could comply.  

The OSHA proposal would have defined “explosives” to include “black powder, … small arms ammunition, small arms ammunition primers, [and] smokeless propellant,” and treated these items the same as the most volatile high explosives. 

Under the proposed rule, a workplace that contained even a handful of small arms cartridges, for any reason, would have been considered a “facility containing explosives” and therefore subject to many impractical restrictions.  For example, no one could carry “firearms, ammunition, or similar articles in facilities containing explosives … except as required for work duties.”  Obviously, this rule would make it impossible to operate any kind of gun store, firing range, or gunsmith shop. 

Urged by NRA, gun owners had filed a blizzard of negative comments, and just a week ago, OSHA had already issued one extension for its public comment period at the request of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.  After continued publicity through NRA alerts and the outdoor media, and after dozens of Members of Congress expressed concern about its impact, OSHA has wisely decided to go back to the drawing board. 

Working with NRA, U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg (R-MT) planned to offer a floor amendment to the Labor-HHS appropriations bill when the House considered this legislation.  His amendment would have prohibited federal funds from being used to enforce this misguided OSHA regulation. 

Also, working with NRA, Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) gathered signatures from 25 House colleagues for a letter, dated July 11, expressing concerns about this proposed OSHA rule.  The letter called the proposal “an undue burden on a single industry where facts do not support the need outlined by this proposed rule” and “not feasible, making it realistically impossible for companies to comply with its tenets.” 

On July 16, Kristine A. Iverson, the Labor Department’s Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, sent Rep. Rehberg a letter stating that it “was never the intention of OSHA to block the sale, transportation, or storage of small arms ammunition, and OSHA is taking prompt action to revise” this proposed rule to clarify the purpose of the regulation. 

The public comment website for the proposed rule is now no longer accessible.  The Labor Department published a notice in the July 17 Federal Register announcing that a new rule proposal will soon be drafted for public comment.  Needless to say, NRA monitors proposed federal regulations to head off this kind of overreach, and will be vigilant in monitoring for OSHA’s next draft.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.