After New York City bombing, Indiana lawmakers wants to limit access to Tannerite

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INDIANAPOLIS -- The commander of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s bomb squad knows the potential of Tannerite.

“It’s dangerous stuff,” Lt. Ron Humbert said. “The videos are all over YouTube.”

The compound, sold in sporting goods stores, is routinely used for target practice. When used properly, it is safe, but when combined and twisted into a bomb like officials in New York City believe may have happened, Tannerite’s potential becomes explosive.

“From a bomb guy’s point of view, it’d sure be nice to know who’s buying that,” Humbert said. “And there is no regulation law in Indiana that requires that.”

Tannerite isn’t regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives. The ATF did issue a safety notice in 2015, which said if used improperly the compound could be deadly.

“It can be used as a weapon, and I’m concerned about that,” State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) said.

Merritt has tried unsuccessfully to limit the easy access to Tannerite. He told CBS4 Tuesday, in the wake of the weekend bombing, he will try again even harder.

“I think it’s something we need to be very careful with,” he said. “Because there are people who use it for the right purposes.”

Merritt’s proposal, which he plans to introduce as legislation during the 2017 session, would prohibit the sale of Tannerite in Indiana to anyone under the age of 18. The measure would also require Tannerite to be sold behind the counter, meaning a valid photo ID would be needed to purchase it.

“We just want to restrict it to people who are confident they can use it correctly,” Merritt said. “And it’s also a safety issue.”

In years past, though, lawmakers have been hesitant to place and restrictions on Tannerite.

In a statement posted on the company’s website, Tannerite said it is working with law enforcement in New York City to determine of the product was definitely used in the bombs.

“The entire staff of Tannerite stands together in the abhorrence and unintended use of all products that are misused for violence and hate,” the statement said. “Our prayers and thoughts go out to the individuals and families who are victims in these acts.”

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