Safe Explosives Act - ATF Press Release

For Immediate Release
November 25, 2002
Contact: Jim Crandall, ATF

Implementation Of the Safe Explosives Act,
Applying Stricter Controls
on The Purchase of Explosives in The
Continuing Fight Against Terrorism

Washington, 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).


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