An Exploding Christmas, sheriff wants to tamp down the noise
“Silent Night” - Sheriff: Blowing up stuff, playing loud music infringes on others’ enjoyment of surroundings
People in the northern end of Laurens County have taken up the hobby of blowing up refrigerators with a rifle shot.
Oh, yes, they do have help - from an explosive substance that’s perfectly legal. Laurens County Sheriff Don Reynolds can’t control the substance, but he does want to control the racket.
“The Planning Commission was very receptive and saw the need for changes to (the Noise Ordinance),” Reynolds told the county council Dec. 12. “There are far too many places where they’re firing semi- and automatic weapons and exploding stuff with Tannerite, that’s in the upper part of the county.”
Used to be, if a noise complaint was going to go to court, three witnesses to the noise were required. Reynolds said that requirement is obsolete, and does nothing more than pits neighbor against neighbor. “Our officers need to be able to respond and be fair,” Reynolds said.
According to Wikipedia, Tannerite (brand name) is a patented exploding target used for firearms practice, sold in kit form and containing the components of a binary explosive. “The explosive comprises a combination of ammonium nitrate and/or ammonium perchlorate (oxidizers), and a fuel — primarily aluminum powder — that is supplied as two separate powders that are mixed by the user. The combination is relatively stable when subjected to forces less severe than a high-velocity bullet impact, such as a hammer blow, being dropped, or impact from a low-velocity bullet or shotgun blast. It is also not flammable — an explosion cannot be created by a burning fuse or electricity,” the on-line listing says.
“Because it is sold as two separate powders, it can be transported and sold in many places without the legal restrictions that would otherwise apply to explosives. The target system as a whole is the patented, trademarked product called Tannerite, although the term is often used to refer to the explosive mixture itself, and other combination explosives are often generically referred to as tannerite.
“Tannerite is sold in pre-sized quantities for target practice, avalanche control and police use. Pre-sized quantities are sold with non-sparking polyethylene mixing bottles. Tannerite consists of two components: a fuel mixed with a catalyst or sensitizer, and a bulk material or oxidizer. The fuel/catalyst mixture is 90% 600-mesh dark flake aluminum powder, combined with the catalyst that is a mixture of 5% 325-mesh titanium sponge and 5% 200-mesh zirconium hydrate (with an earlier patent listing 5% zirconium hydroxide). The oxidizer is a mixture of 85% 200-mesh ammonium nitrate and 15% ammonium perchlorate.
“Simpler mixtures of ammonium nitrate and aluminium powder often named as ammonal are known to be used as do-it-yourself substitutes for Tannerite. Ammonal is made commercially as a substitute for dynamite in blasting. Such homebrew "tannerites" have unknown standards of quality and safety.”
Tannerite has its own website, billed as “the original binary reactive target.”
The targets were invented and patented by Daniel J. Tanner of Pleasant Hill, Oregon. “This is the home of Tannerite®, the only legitimate company to successfully patent the Binary Reactive Target. The only companies, besides us, that can legally sell our invention are these authorized retail dealers near you. Safe & Legal Our (expletive deleted) invention is specifically designed to be safe. Tannerite® Brand targets can not be initiated by any method other than a center fire rifle, and we hold a valid patent on Binary Reactive Targets. We have spent many years perfecting our product,” the website says.
“Since the first shipment was made in late 2000, we have worked hard to do everything we can for our customer base. We will stand by any of the products we sell. We will assure your complete and total satisfaction in every possible way. Our Reactive Targets are guaranteed 110% along with everything else we sell.
“You should always check and follow all state, county, and/or local laws and regulations for applicable permit or license requirements, or other potential restrictions and conditions in your area, for possession and use of binary rifle targets in unmixed and mixed forms. Note under Manufacturing: a person who combines binary targets for non-commercial purposes is exempt from Federal licensing requirements.”
Reynolds said Tannerite explosions are “rocking houses right down to the foundations” in Laurens County.
To give the Sheriff’s Office a way to respond to noise complaints, Laurens County Council gave a revised noise ordinance first reading approval. It requires two more readings and a public hearing to become local law, laying out noise restrictions and penalties for violations.
Gray Court resident Gerald Miller said if the noise ordinance is enacted, that should be done with an understanding of how noise acts.
He found a copy of the proposed ordinance on the county website, and said it has flaws in how it deals with race cars and enforcement. The ordinance said fines can be determined by the Sheriff’s Office, he said, when actually the penalties must be imposed by a Magistrate.
Asked if he wants to take on an issue based on his officers’ discretion, Reynolds said he trusts officers every day to go out on the roads and enforce the law fairly.
He said “discretion” is simply what the officers live with, and they are smart enough to know “if somebody’s got loud speakers blaring out in their front yard, that’s too loud.”
But Miller said, “You need to have some understanding of the behavior of sound before you regulate it.”