Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Exploding Targets On FBI and USFWS Hit Lists

It seems the FBI has done what they evidently present as an exhaustive investigation into the potential uses of exploding targets like those produced by Tannerite, Sure Shot, Star Targets and White Lightening (source). They have determined that these targets could be utilized by terrorists as Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Before his death, Senator Frank Lautenberg recommended they be controlled as explosive devices because these items, even though not explosive until mixed by the user and then shot with a high powered rifle round, are easily obtainable by terrorists. Let's think about that for a moment -  the that being: 'easy to obtain by terrorists'.

Exploding Targets (ETs) have been the rage among many members of the shooting community for years now. They are fun to shoot at just like fireworks are fun on July 4th (Independence Day). Even though available for many years now, not once in all those years has it ever been reported that the components of commercially available ETs have ever been used successfully (or at all) in an improvised explosive device by terrorists. Not once, as in never, or not ever, or zero times. Get it - terrorists do not use ETs in Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). There may be a reason for that. They require detonation by high speed impact such as that caused by a high powered rifle bullet. Hitting them with a hammer will not set them off, running them over does not make them go boom, electricity will not set them off, fire will not set them off, cannon fuse will not set them off.

A bullet hitting them will set them off but that is not a very sure fire way to set off a bomb and even the dimwitted among terrorists realize that (but not the brain children at the FBI under the Obama Administration). You see, if a terrorist plants one of those exploding targets as a bomb, then gets to a safe distance to set it off and shoots at it with a high powered rifle he may or may not hit it with the first shot. As I recall, most terrorists, in fact most shooters among the military, federal agencies, police departments or the general population of the gun toting free citizens of the USA are not expert marksman. So why chance missing. While a hit on the first shot would make two bangs, one from the rifle and a louder one from the exploding target - a miss would make a bang from the rifle that would need to be followed by at least one more (or a couple to several more) until the terrorist actually hits the explosive target to make the explosion take place.  That first miss, with the loud rifle shot, would be all that was needed to do a few things. First - it would alarm people an alert them to danger, second it would give away the location of the terrorist, third - it would give law enforcement a target. Nope, the terrorists realize these exploding targets are not what they want to make IEDS, even the stupid ones - otherwise we would have heard of their use by now since, as I said, these targets have been around for years.

Now if the FBI report is not enough to convince you that exploding targets are dangerous, as it was not enough to convince me, the article goes on to state the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has tried to make them seem ultra evil by way of a report in which they said: they have "associated" ETs with 16 forest fires over the past year. Here is the quote from the article:

""In the past year alone, at least 16 wildfires on national forests have been associated with exploding targets, causing millions of dollars in suppression costs while threatening the safety and well-being of surrounding communities," said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell." (source)

You will note that Mr. Tidwell was not quoted as saying that the ETs actually caused the forest fires, just that they were associated with the fires and that the fires associated with them have caused lots of damage. I bet he chose his words quite carefully. Now even if the ETs actually caused the fires, which is doubtful to me, weren't there many more forest fires and weren't most of those caused by people who started them with things like campfires, matches and carelessly disposed of cigarettes. Funny how none of those things have been outright banned as USFWS has just banned the exploding targets in certain areas:

"An order issued Monday by the agency bans the targets in forests and grasslands in Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota." (source) The Obama Administration seemingly is going bonkers over these targets by saying they are readily accessible to terrorists who could easily use them as IEDs and is starting to issue restrictions and bans on their use. Remember, these are targets that have been purchased legally and legally used by law abiding American gun owners for years but yet never have been reported to have been used by terrorists. Ah, but wait, a single individual has claimed to have seen a container of Tannerite (a brand of exploding targets, the original) among items that could be used to make IEDs. That one guy says he saw such but apparently has not provided any documentation or other hard evidence to back it up. Even if he actually did see it among other items that are commonly used to make bombs, we still have not had one confirmed report of the use of Tannerite, or the equivalent, in an explosive device detonated or even manufactured by an actual terrorist. Why not?

Well, other than the reasons I gave above, about needing to detonate ETs with a high speed impact such as from a high powered rifle round, the other main consideration is probably that much more efficient and deadly explosives can be made easier and for less expense than these commercially available ETs. For instance, Al Qaeda, on the Arabian Peninsula, puts out a periodical online magazine called Inspire. In the summer 2010 edition, there was an article in that magazine called: MAKE A BOMB IN THE KITCHEN OF YOUR MOM. The article give in depth instructions about how a jihadist (read as Muslim terrorist) can make a bomb from everyday household items.

First, the article explains the two types of explosions: Chemical (such as TNT and C4) and Mechanical (inflammable materials burned in a confined space, such materials as gun powder or simple yet effective household ingredients that can be combined to make an explosive substance). The household ingredients that they tell you to combine, to make the explosive substances, to be used in very effective pipe bombs, are sugar and the substance found in match heads in crushed form. Yes, you got that right - sugar and crushed match heads make an effective explosive binary compound. 

You can buy these ingredients anywhere in the United States, certainly easier than you can buy Exploding Targets in the USA. I will admit though, the ETs are still easy to buy, no license required just as there is no license required to buy sugar or matches. The reason you can buy the ETs, without an explosives license, is that they are made using a binary substance. In other words, there is no explosive substance until two substances are mixed. So the ET's when sold, are not really explosive since the substances are shipped to the buyer each individually packaged. The buyer has to mix them to turn them into an exploding target and yes that is quite legal, and I believe it is legal in all 50 states. It certainly is legal in my home state of NY which is one of the most restrictive when it comes to things like explosives and firearms. So why haven't terrorists been buying these ETs, or the substances to make them like there is no tomorrow?

The reasons terrorists are not buying ETs in great quantities are likely very simple ones, such as:

1) ETs are relatively expensive; sugar and match heads much less expensive.

2) The ingredients for ETs, an oxidizer like ammonium nitrate and the fuel like aluminum shavings (or flakes)  are much less expensive to obtain than the commercially available exploding targets themselves so  terrorist could make them himself for much less expense than buying commercial ETs.

3) There is less of a paper trail when buying the components of ETs rather than actually buying commercially available ETs themselves from a dealer. You could buy ammonium nitrate at one source and get the aluminum for aluminum flakes at your local supermarket in the form of aluminum foil which is very easily converted to aluminum flakes or shavings.

4) The Al Qaeda preferred ingredients, sugar and match heads, as written up in Inspire magazine, are MUCH less expensive than ETs or their components.

5) The preferred bomb ingredients, as seen in Inspire magazine, are even more readily available than those required to make an exploding target since you can buy them at virtually any delicatessen, grocery store, supermarket, 
warehouse market and so forth. In fact, matches can probably be obtained at many more places than where you can buy sugar.

6) Purchasing the ingredients for the Al Qaeda inspired bomb would not leave a paper trail of any sort unless purchased by an absolute idiot. Purchasing ETs almost always leaves a paper trail.

7) The explosive compound, detailed in Inspire magazine, that is made by mixing the crushed match heads with the sugar can be set off buy means that are more covert than shooting a rifle at the explosive device. For example, while the exploding targets can not be set off by a mere electrical charge, that is the preferred method of igniting the sugar/crushed match head explosive compound and the directions for making an ignition device are included in the Inspire magazine article. The device consists of a timer clock, some wire, a Christmas Tree light bulb or two, and a small 9 volt battery. This type of device could be placed anywhere and allow the terrorist to set the device to go off at the time when the area is most crowded but when the terrorist has long since vacated the blast zone. Shooting at an exploding target would require the terrorist to be there to set off the device and his or her presence may be enough to alert people to danger.

8) The directions to make the binary explosive compound found in explosive targets is patented. The information as to the exact ingredients in the exact amounts required is not easily obtainable.

9) The directions to make the binary explosive compound consisting of sugar and crushed match heads is readily available in Inspire magazine and probably elsewhere on the Internet. The exact ingredients and amount to use of each have been published worldwide by Al Qaeda. If the ingredients found in explosive targets was better suited to make a bomb or IED, why has Al Qaeda not made an effort to break it down and then make that info public!

One can only conclude that terrorists have not resorted to using commercially available Explosive Targets because there are less expensive, easier to obtain, easier to mix, easier to use covertly, more effective ingredients available with which a terrorist can make an improvised explosive device (a homemade bomb) that will not leave a paper trail back to the terrorist or the terrorist organization.

Sure, a terrorist might actually use an exploding target or the material used to manufacture them in an explosive device but the chances of that seem pretty remote considering how long these targets have been out there yet never have been reported as having been used by terrorists to any great extent. Yes, the FBI says a group in NH had the targets set up around the perimeter of their encampment (source) and my guess would be they only used ETs because they were unaware of how easy it would have been to make a bomb the Al Qaeda way. The truth is, ETs are not a component of choice for use by terrorists in IEDs as is made obvious by the fact that Al Qaeda itself recommends an explosive mixture of crushed match heads and sugar by way of INSPIRE its own terror inspiring magazine.

Strange though, neither the USFWS nor the FBI has made a move to prevent anyone from carrying sugar and match heads, let alone matches or cigarettes, on federal land even though they say they are worried about IEDS and or the threat of fires. Neither have you heard the FBI say even one thing about the dangers of sugar and match heads - nor are you likely to hear or read about it in any of their reports because they do not want to spread around how easy it is to make effective bombs out of them. The truth of the matter seemingly is, at least to me, ETs do not make truly effective bombs if only because of the lack of variation of detonation methods and because the person setting one off needs to remain in the area. (Yes both of those limiting factors could be overcome by why bother when the ingredients for easier to make bombs are less expensive and easier to use and set off.)

My guess is that this FBI report and it recommendations as well as the action taken by the USFWS are just two more parts of the Obama Administration's attack on law abiding gun owners. How is that, you ask. By way of trying to make gun owners look more evil than just being mere gun owners - now they own the means to make IEDs and that makes them eviler needs to be stopped fast! It only adds more lies and more less-than-factual controversy to the push by the left to destroy the RKBA and our other liberties and rights all in the name of preventing terror. Obama would have better prevented terror by not backing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and by sending in troops to protect our embassy
personnel in Libya.

Oh, that FBI information will likely accomplish one other thing, in my opinion. I think it may well cause a buying frenzy on exploding targets because of the now looming potential for those ETs to be regulated right out of the commercial market or at least require background checks and or licensing to purchase. My suggestion, to free Americans, buy them while you can get them before the buying frenzy begins and prices go up. Need more incentive, just remember what happened with ammo prices and ammo availability once Obama was reelected - and that was not GWB's fault - not by a longshot! Sportsmansguide.com has them right now. If I was going to buy them, I think I would buy at least one of the 10 pound bulk packs.

All the best,
Glenn B