Regulation of the Day 139: Mailing Fake Grenades

According to a new United States Postal Service regulation, all fake grenades and other “replica or inert explosive devices,” must be sent via Registered Mail.

You must also write ‘‘REPLICA EXPLOSIVE’’ on the package “using at least 20 point type or letters at least 1?4-inch high.”

Unlike most Regulations of the Day, this makes some sense. Many a post office has shut down because of false bomb scares. An uncle sending his nephew a birthday present could theoretically grind a major city’s mail service to a halt.

That isn’t the uncle’s fault; it’s the hyper-sensitive post-9/11 security mindset’s fault. Sadly, that mindset won’t be going away any time soon. This rule will hopefully prevent some false positives . Labeling the package lets postal workers know that they need not freak out. The Registered Mail requirement allows postal workers to verify that the grenades are, indeed, harmless.

Of course, the new rule treats the symptom, not the disease. It should hopefully reduce the amount of unnecessary bomb scares. But the real problem is the ingrained human habit of over-reacting to terrorism.

Terrorist attacks are extraordinarily rare, and need to be treated that way. Until common sense awakens from its post-9/11 slumber, this regulation may actually do some good.

Or the terrorists could start shipping grenades via UPS.