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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!!!

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Education NewsTracker Transparency and Elections

Womick Redoubles Haslam Criticisms

Rick Womick isn’t backing down from provocative comments he made in a letter sent to Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration a week ago.

The Rockvale Republican state representative told the Associated Press this week he’s sticking by his letter. In fact, he’s upped the rhetorical heat a bit, calling the reelection-seeking governor a “traitor to the party.”

“You had the head of our party targeting individual members because we don’t agree with him 100 percent of the time, that’s treason,” the former Air Force fighter pilot told the AP.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press first reported that, according to campaign finance reports, Advance Tennessee PAC, with connections to supporters of Haslam and Republican Speaker of the Tennessee House, Beth Harwell, was launched in July and spent $137,725 in five primary races against incumbent legislators who’ve opposed the administration.

Successfully fending off attacks from moderate challengers in the GOP primary were state Reps. Courtney Rogers of Goodlettsville, Mike Sparks of Smyrna, and  Micah Van Huss of Jonesborough.  Kingsport Rep. Tony Shipley, the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee chairman, and Stacey Campfield, the notoriously controversial state senator from Knoxville, were both unseated.

Haslam laughed-off Womick’s warlike words. And he defended efforts to purge hostile Republicans from the General Assembly.

“I don’t know why my supporters should be precluded from doing what everybody else is doing, in terms of being engaged and trying to make certain good people are elected,” Haslam told reporters. He added that there are plenty of groups, such as teachers unions, who want to “engage in primaries,” and he doesn’t see his supporters actions as being any different.

Womick was one of 15 state legislators to sign a letter in late June that called for the resignation of Kevin Huffman, Tennessee’s embattled education commissioner, on the grounds that he allegedly manipulated the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program results when the department delayed their release by four days.

After the release of that letter, Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper issued an opinion — requested by state Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet — that affirmed Huffman’s delay of the release of TCAP scores as acceptable under state and federal law.

Womick’s most recent letter to the administration accused the AG and Huffman of collusion on the opinion, and referred to it as “an orchestrated cover-up” and “Clintonesque.” Womick’s letter added that while many other legislators were unhappy with Haslam, to prevent further retaliation, he would not name them.

He also told the AP that in the future he expects a stronger legislative stance against Haslam, who is “making a lot of enemies very quickly.”

But Haslam said he plans to continue business as usual.

“For any governor, the job is to propose an idea and then to get at least 50 members of the House and 17 members of the Senate to vote in favor of it,” Haslam said. “I don’t think that’s changed.”