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Westchester Legislator Seeks To Restrict Explosive Used In NYC Bombing

The scene at 135 W. 23rd St. in Manhattan, after the bombing Sept. 17. Photo Credit: @RichardEngel
Assemblyman David Buchwald is pushing for legislation to regulate Tannerite, the product allegedly used in the Manhattan bombing Sept. 17. Photo Credit: Provided

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Despite a recent setback, state Assemblyman David Buchwald, D-White Plains, is vowing to continue his long-standing battle to regulate an explosive product that appears to have been used in last month’s bombing in New York City.

The New York Times and CBS2 New York recently reported that a product known as Tannerite was used in the bombing that injured 31 people in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan on Sept. 17.

Tannerite is made from two separate compounds, ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder.

The combination is marketed to be used as a small exploding target for target practice.

When large amounts of the chemicals are combined, however, the resulting mixture can be used to create a powerful and dangerous explosion.

During the past three years, Buchwald, whose district office is in Mount Kisco, has sponsored legislation to restrict access to Tannerite and similar products that evade state laws governing explosives by having the components that cause the explosion separated with instructions on how to combine them to create the blast.

Buchwald’s recent bill, A.270-B/S.5376-A, passed the Assembly overwhelmingly in June but did not receive a vote on the Senate floor, thereby keeping it from going to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk to be signed into law.

The legislation has been endorsed by the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police and the Westchester County Chiefs of Police Association.

Five states -- Maryland, Louisiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Vermont -- as well as parts of California, require licenses or permits to use or possess exploding targets.

Buchwald’s legislation similarly would require a certificate to be issued by the state Department of Labor, which oversees explosives, before purchasing, using or storing such products.

The bombing in Manhattan is far from the only instance in which Tannerite has resulted in causing panic.

Three counties in upstate New York have experienced such incidents.

In Chautauqua County in 2013, a group of friends target shooting in the woods intentionally exploded 18 pounds of Tannerite. The explosion rattled neighbors and was heard miles away.

In Yates County in 2015, several 911 calls were made because of loud explosions that were caused when a group of teens used an excessive amount of Tannerite in the crook of a tree.

In Oswego County in 2016, a beaver dam was blown up using Tannerite, resulting in an explosion that was considered deafening by the neighbors.

Buchwald, who is running for re-election unopposed, is vowing to continue to push for full enactment of his legislation during the next legislative session.

“It was my hope to address the issue of unregulated explosives proactively,” he said. “Unfortunately, recent events show the urgent need to put sensible restrictions on who can have access to these products that can be turned into improvised explosive devices.”

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