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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: January 9, 2017 10:57 AM
From: Representative Dom Costa
To: All House members
Subject: Prohibiting the Possession and Sale of Exploding Targets - Former HB2074
 
In the near future, I will re-introduce legislation – former House Bill 2074 of the 2015-2016 Legislative Session – that would ban the possession and sale of binary explosives, often known as exploding targets or by brand names such as Tannerite.

A binary explosive is a product that consists of two components, typically ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder at a 95%/5% ratio by weight, which are advertised and sold together with instructions on how to combine the components to create an explosive. They are intended to be used lawfully as targets to enhance a shooter’s target practice experience.

However, binary explosives have the potential to cause property damage, serious injury and even death when used improperly, or when large amounts are used. The potential for criminal diversion of this product was called to my attention through a March 2016 article on WTAE, which noted that a man was recently arrested for planning to use binary explosives to blow up the Pennsylvania State Police barracks in Loganville, just outside of York.

Research conducted by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) shows that exploding targets sold under the brand name Tannerite have approximately 51 percent of the explosive power of TNT. The analysis also studied the effects of Tannerite from blast overpressure, which is the wave of pressure from a detonation that impacts the area surrounding the explosion. Results are as follows:

For 0.5 pounds of Tannerite:
  • At a range of 5 feet, a person is within the threshold for fatality from direct blast effects, and the total destruction of buildings is probable.
  • At a range of 6 feet, a person is likely to experience lung hemorrhage, and the total destruction of buildings is probable.

For 10 pounds of Tannerite:
  • At a range of 9 feet, the blast will be fatal, and steel towers can be blown down.
  • At a range of 10 feet, there is a 99 percent probability of human fatality from direct blast effects, and the total destruction of buildings is probable.
  • At a range of 35 feet, blast overpressure will hurl a person to the ground, and damage to property includes the collapse of self-framing steel panel buildings and the rupture of oil storage tanks.

For 20 pounds of Tannerite:
  • At a range of 5 feet to 12 feet, the blast will be fatal, and there will be crater damage.
  • At a range of 14 to 18 feet, fatality is possible, and the total destruction of buildings is probable.
  • At a range of 20 feet, a person is within the threshold for lung hemorrhage.
  • At a range of 22.5 feet, a person is likely to sustain serious wounds from flying glass, and damage to property includes the shearing or flexure failure of brick wall panels, and the overturning of loaded rail cars.

A binary explosive is clearly a dangerous substance with the potential to do great damage to our citizens and our property. Therefore, I am proposing legislation to establish criminal penalties for possession or sale of a binary explosive. The bill is aimed at reducing the available supply of exploding targets by assigning higher felony penalties to those who sell such products, as opposed to misdemeanor penalties for possession. There is also a higher grading for possession or sale of more than 20 pounds of binary explosives, which will help to target those who intend to use the product for illicit purposes or to cause higher amounts of damage. However, the legislation provides an avenue for those who possess binary explosives to responsibly get rid of the product: individuals may turn over their exploding targets to the Pennsylvania State Police for destruction without incurring any criminal charges.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation.



Introduced as HB292