Geneva: Police, prosecutors take aim at exploding targets

9:24 AM, May 2, 2013   |    comments
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GENEVA -- The 9-1-1 caller thought a house exploded nearby.

"I just heard a massive explosion," the caller reported to dispatchers. "It shook my entire flippin' house!"

Geneva police determined that the source of the loud blast were exploding targets, which are gaining in popularity for target practice, thanks to cable TV shows like "Sons of Guns."

Exploding targets are binary explosives. Two inert compounds are mixed together, to create an explosive that is triggered with a high-powered rifle. They are perfectly legal, and are sold at gun shops and large sporting goods chains. Sold under brands like Tannerite, and Sure Shot, the chemicals are packaged separately, so that they're legal to sell.

But some prosecutors believe that once they are mixed together, they become an explosive device, and without a permit - a violation of state law.

Brimfield Police Chief David Oliver says the blasts cause 9-1-1 switchboards to light up, and are wasting safety resources when police and fire are forced to respond.

"The people immediately standing there will do a lot of 'ooing and awwing.' But the 80-year old couple around the corner may have a different feeling on it. They may be thinking something drastic is happening," said Oliver.

Morrow County Prosecutor Charles Howland has researched exploding targets, and believes that charges against a non-permitted user could be as severe as a second degree felony.

"Once you mix the ingredients together, it becomes an explosive device," he said. "You can destroy an entire car with enough of these."

Howland wants Ohio lawmakers to regulate, or outlaw exploding targets. California and Maryland have outlawed them.

The FBI issued an advisory to law enforcement agencies last March, warning that ingredients in exploding targets could be used to manufacture a homemade bomb.

"No one knew that a pressure cooker could do what it did, until what happened in Boston," said Howland.

WKYC-TV

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