The most important question concerning the recent up-scuttle over proposed Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations which would have made manufacturing, transporting, and sale of ammunition and components virtually impossible is: How did it get so far without anyone noticing?
Some have criticized NRA for not reporting on the proposed rule changes until early July when the comment period was about to expire. That criticism is justified to a degree. With their vast resources, NRA should be able to monitor the Federal Register for any issues pertaining to firearms, ammunition, or hunting. But NRA tends to focus on legislative rather than regulatory matters. OSHA rules are typically handled by industry representatives like the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturer's Institute (SAAMI) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).
It turns out that OSHA’s 55 page proposal is actually a case of “be careful what you wish for.” In 2002, SAAMI and the Institute of Makers of Explosives (IME) filed a petition with OSHA calling for updates to regulations dealing with the manufacture and storage of explosives. They wanted OSHA rules to conform more closely to DOT and ATF regulations to clear up confusion and address technological advances.
Five years later, OSHA took action on the SAAMI/IME petition and totally revamped their regulations including moving to the Department of Transportation (DOT) classification system for explosives (which follows the UN international classification system), and removing numerous redundancies and rules which were actuality beyond the legal scope of the agency.
From the time it was introduced in mid-April to a week away from the close of comments in mid-July, there were no reports about the proposed regulations. Then on July 2 NSSF reported on some of the flaws in the bill and news of OSHA’s actions spread quickly. A request for an extension of the comment period was granted and manufacturer and retailer representatives pledged to deliver clear and compelling cases for fixing the proposed rules.
While there might be some nefarious intent on the part of some OSHA bureaucrats, it seems more likely that this whole mess stems from ignorance and a lack of diligence on the part of government watchdog groups. The problems will probably be cleared up before the new rules are adopted, but gunowners shouldn’t leave it to chance; calls and e-mails to congressional representatives are in order.