ATF’s sudden and unexpected change in policy on wetted nitrocellulose will likely have a significant impact on industry’s ability to deliver products to the military and commercial markets. Industry members have relied on the exemption for wetted nitrocellulose for many years and are aware of no accidental detonations or diversion of this product into illicit channels. Consequently, it is unclear why ATF believed it necessary to change its policy and, more importantly, why ATF announced the change in a newsletter article with no advance notice to industry.The Truth About Guns provides a clearer explanation:
The key component in modern smokeless gunpowder is nitrocellulose. This quick and efficient burning compound is the cornerstone upon which the various blends of gunpowder are built and without it the majority of ammunition you see on the wall at your local sporting goods store would disappear. Since time immemorial the ATF has held that wetted nitrocellulose (a mixture of the explosive compound and water or alcohol, designed to reduce the probability of explosion during shipping) destined for small arms ammunition manufacturing was not an explosive and therefore exempt from the usually onerous requirements of logging the material in a bound book (like firearms) and storing it in an approved explosives magazine. Until just a few weeks ago, that is, when the ATF threw all that out the window.Not to stoke conspiracy fears, but it makes one wonder if this is why federal agencies have been ordering such large amounts of ammunition in recent years.
Update (9/1/2016): As one of my readers pointed out, Ammo Land has updated its article with a letter from the ATF indicating that they have received comments from ammunition makers and importers that have"brought to our attention issues that were not fully addressed in the Newsletter and require further consultation and consideration with the industry. Accordingly, ATF has and will conduct further industry outreach concerning wetted Nitrocellulose. In the interim, previously authorized industry practices concerning wetted Nitrocellulose will not be affected."
2nd Update: "ATF Backs Off on Wetted Nitrocellulose, Smokeless Powder Production Uneffected"--Ammo Land.