TFA Criticizes AG Opinion on the Possession of TANNERITE

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; February 11, 2015:

In the last week, the Tennessee Attorney General has issued an opinion (AG Opinion 15-12) that concludes that the civilian possession and use of even commercially available exploding target systems, specifically naming TANNERITE may constitute a criminal act in Tennessee relative to the civilian possession or manufacture of an explosive weapon.

The opinion states, in part:

You have asked about the applicability of Tennessee’s prohibitions against explosives to commercially available binary explosives such as Tannerite. Binary explosives are “pre-packaged products consisting of two separate components, usually an oxidizer like ammonium nitrate and a fuel such as aluminum or another metal.” Tannerite is an example of a commercially available binary explosive used to create exploding targets. It is sold in an unmixed condition and is designed to be mixed in a container and detonated by a rifle shot.

It is a criminal offense intentionally or knowingly to possess, manufacture, transport, repair, or sell an explosive or an explosive weapon in Tennessee. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1302(a)(1). The term “explosive weapon” is defined to include “[a]ny sealed device containing dry ice or other chemically reactive substances for the purposes of causing an explosion by a chemical reaction.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1301(4)(B)(ii). The term “explosive” is not defined in Title 39 of the Code, but the Tennessee Supreme Court has defined it generally as “a chemical-type substance such as dynamite, nitroglycerin, or gunpowder” and as “a substance or combination of substances which, upon rapid decomposition or combustion, cause [sic] an explosion.” State v. McGouey, 229 S.W.3d 668, 673 n.1 (Tenn. 2007) (citing and quoting The Random House Dictionary of the English Language 681, 682 (2d ed. 1987); 31A AM. JUR. 2d Explosions and Explosives § 2 (2002)).

Unlike federal regulations and some other states’ provisions, Tennessee’s prohibition against the possession or manufacture of explosives does not contain an exception for personal recreational use. Cf. In re Joseph S., 698 N.W.2d 212, 226-27 (Neb. App. 2005) (noting that the possessor’s intent is irrelevant under Tennessee’s definition of explosive weapon). The statute does contain specific defenses for military or law-enforcement use, for use related to a lawful industrial or commercial enterprise, for dramatic performances and scientific research, and for display at museums. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1302(b). None of these defenses applies to an individual’s personal or recreational use of an explosive.

Products such as Tannerite have been commercially available and have been known to be inexpensively available for recreational entertainment of shooters at many gun shows and sporting goods dealers.

If you think that this is wrong or should be addressed, you should contact your legislators immediately to question this opinion and ask that they introduce legislation to allow the recreational use, possession and manufacture of explosive targets by civilians. Act quickly because the bill cutoff date if Thursday, February 12!!!

  • Dan

    The AG is ignorant on this issue, confusing and co-mingling statutes and ignoring the preemption clause of 2003. In May 2003, the feds override state rules where a direct and positive conflict occurs between state and local explosives law. The feds specifically grant individuals the right to buy and use Tannerite for sporting, non-commercial purposes. If Tennessee law conflicts, then the feds trump. That war was already fought and for a state to try and strip federal rights would be like going back in time and placing a curfew on persons of color after 5PM in public and other such ridiculous state laws.