Teaching and demonstrating how to use explosives

Kevin sent me an email today asking if I had seen this:

TAMPA – Two Egyptian students at the University of South Florida were indicted Friday on federal explosives charges, but prosecutors would not say whether the men planned to carry out an attack or hurt anyone.

Ahmed Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed, 24, an engineering graduate student and teaching assistant at the Tampa-based university, and engineering student Youssef Samir Megahed, 21, have been held in South Carolina since Aug. 4 when they were stopped for speeding and authorities found explosives in the trunk of their car.

They were indicted by a grand jury in Tampa on charges of carrying explosive materials across state lines. Mohammed also faces terrorism-related charges for teaching and demonstrating how to use the explosives.

Referring to the “teaching and demonstrating” aspects Kevin then asked, “So running the Boomershoot makes you a criminal, or are you safe because you’re licensed?”

The answer to the first question, “Have I seen this?” is no. The other two questions are not so easily answered.

I’m almost certain running Boomershoot doesn’t make me a criminal. But as we know from experience with the Second Amendment and the lack of politicians and law enforcement being prosecuted under 18 USC 242 for enforcing illegal laws infringing the 2nd Amendment our government doesn’t follow the letter or even some vague shadow of the law. They will do basically whatever they want and then find a law, or loophole in the law, that gives them plausible authority and justification for their actions. Numerous example abound:

  • The early restrictions on firearms were aimed at, and only enforced, when the suspect was black.
  • Literacy tests for voting required that the prospective voter could read the newspaper–and blacks were given a Chinese newspaper to read for their test.
  • In New Jersey–“the legislative branch may as a matter of sound public policy and without impairing any constitutional guarantees, declare the act itself unlawful without any further requirement of mens rea or its equivalent… When dealing with guns, the citizen acts at his peril.”

So with that caveat, no, Boomershoot does not make me a criminal.

As to the final question, “Are you safe because you’re licensed?” I’m probably safer but as long as I’m alive I will never safe from harm. My license gives me visibility with the ATF and they can comfortably call me up and ask what is going on or ask if I know something about some event should the need arise. They can come out and visit the Taj Mahal where I make and store my explosives and can inventory it (my inventory is zero 99+% of the time). It is my belief they will be less likely to send the SWAT team on an early morning visit when they can sit down over a meal at the local restaurant and chat about things (as they have done on more than one occasion).

So what’s the story with “teaching and demonstrating how to use explosive” being a crime. It’s typical MSM getting details wrong. What is misleading about the newspaper report is what the law actually says versus what they reported. Here is the actual law:

(p) Distribution of Information Relating to Explosives, Destructive Devices, and Weapons of Mass Destruction.—

(1) Definitions.— In this subsection—

(A) the term “destructive device” has the same meaning as in section 921 (a)(4);
(B) the term “explosive” has the same meaning as in section 844 (j); and
(C) the term “weapon of mass destruction” has the same meaning as in section 2332a (c)(2).

(2) Prohibition.— It shall be unlawful for any person—

(A) to teach or demonstrate the making or use of an explosive, a destructive device, or a weapon of mass destruction, or to distribute by any means information pertaining to, in whole or in part, the manufacture or use of an explosive, destructive device, or weapon of mass destruction, with the intent that the teaching, demonstration, or information be used for, or in furtherance of, an activity that constitutes a Federal crime of violence; or
(B) to teach or demonstrate to any person the making or use of an explosive, a destructive device, or a weapon of mass destruction, or to distribute to any person, by any means, information pertaining to, in whole or in part, the manufacture or use of an explosive, destructive device, or weapon of mass destruction, knowing that such person intends to use the teaching, demonstration, or information for, or in furtherance of, an activity that constitutes a Federal crime of violence.

So, unless I know that someone I am teaching, demonstrating, or providing information to about explosives intends to use it in an illegal manner, technically, I am fine. But, numerous times in the past people have claimed to know what I was thinking even though they were clueless. I don’t think like other people and when people are certain I must know or think something they are frequently wrong. Therefore I can’t be certain that some zealous prosecutor won’t decide I must be thinking something bad and decide to prosecute me.

There is a short side story to this law and Boomershoot. It was Dianne Feinstein that introduced the above law in 1995. It was this law, by Ms. Feinstein, specifically aimed at the Internet and the growing “militia movement”, that helped motivate me to create what is now known as Boomershoot and put information on how to make reactive targets on the net. I was, and am, deliberately thumbing my nose at her with Boomershoot by treading as close as I can but still staying within the law.

2 thoughts on “Teaching and demonstrating how to use explosives

  1. It is my belief they will be less likely to send the SWAT team on an early morning visit when they can sit down over a meal at the local restaurant and chat about things (as they have done on more than one occasion).

    I would have been inclined to agree with you if not for the facts that emerged after the Branch Davidian… event that showed that the ATF likes to make a “big bust” around budget time, and likes to pick what they think are soft but scary looking targets for it. Knowing that you don’t mean them any harm could actually be detrimental, if Boomershoot happens to coincide with budget season.

  2. You have a good point in your example of the Branch Davidians. But however bad my chances are while trying to play by the rules and keeping an open relationship with them I find it difficult to believe my chances would be better if did not have the license, ranted about “The New World Order”, “Black Helicopters”, and were telling them to “bring it on”.

    Even assuming the odds are equally bad I’ll be a better “martyr for the cause” having tried to play by the rules and have them persecute me anyway than being secretive and walking a tightrope with the rules and then being persecuted.

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