What to Know
- Settlement involves Oregon-based Tannerite Sports LLC and Tannerite Brand Binary Rifle Targets.
- Targets come as three separately packaged canisters of chemicals that when combined, make a product similar to a bomb, suit claims.
- It is a felony in California to possess an explosive or destructive device without a valid permit.
A company that sells a dangerous explosive, meant for long-range shooting practice, will pay San Diego County and Riverside County a combined total of $300,000 under the terms of a recent legal settlement.
The case involved two San Diego brothers who were shooting at Tannerite Brand Binary Rifle Targets in an area southeast of Julian when one of the exploding targets triggered a brush fire consuming 1,271 acres, according to the lawsuit.
The District Attorney’s office for San Diego County and Riverside County jointly sued the company after notifying it in 2013 it faced criminal and civil actions if it did not stop selling and marketing its product to California consumers.
The exploding targets are sold in some sporting goods stores and on the Internet. Gun enthusiasts like them because the loud pop and smoke allow the shooter to know their target has been hit at long-range. Or as the Tannerite 2014 Product Guide states, “strike your target and the gratification is instant.”
The settlement agreement designates the targets, which detonate on impact, as explosives. The agreement also restricts Oregon-based Tannerite Sports LLC from making any statements directed to California consumers that the targets will not start a fire.
In 2013, the General Fire burned south of Highway 78 and east of Highway 79 on U.S. Bureau of Land Management property in San Diego County, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit says the fire was sparked when two brothers shot at Tannerite Brand Binary Rifle targets.
“Multiple California consumers have been charged with unlawfully causing fires for detonating Tannerite Exploding Targets that caused brush fires in Riverside and San Diego Counties. At least one California consumer was convicted of unlawfully causing a fire for detonating a Tannerite Exploding Target that caused a brush fire in Riverside County,” the County’s complaint states.
The two brothers were not charged criminally, but they did face civil penalties for the costs of the fire suppression, said San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Steve Spinella.
The agreement also restricts Oregon-based Tannerite Sports LLC from making any statements directed to California consumers that the exploding targets are legal. It is a felony in California to possess an explosive or destructive device without a valid permit.
The company did not respond to a request for comment on the legal settlement.
The settlement does not prevent the company from continuing to do business within California, but it does prevent it from making several statements about its products across California, such as that its product is legal or that it's not an explosive or won't start a fire.
“Multiple consumers within the State of California including those in Riverside and San Diego Counties have been charged with and convicted of possessing an explosive or destructive device for using Tannerite Exploding Targets without a valid permit, a felony in the State of California,” the County’s legal complaint states.
In sporting goods stores across the U.S., the company sells its targets in three separately packaged canisters of chemicals that when combined make a product similar to a bomb, according to the lawsuit.
“The Tannerite Exploding Target is sold as one package comprised of three separately packaged components: one canister that contains a pre-measured amount of ammonium nitrate, one packet that contains a pre-measured amount of aluminum powder and one canister that is empty,” the joint legal claim against the company states.
Similar mixtures, containing an oxidizer made up of ammonium nitrate and a fuel such as aluminum powder have been used in terrorist attacks, such as the 2016 Manhattan bombing, and the Oklahoma City bombing. In 2013, the FBI issued a bulletin stating the mixture can be used in IED’s.
“The instructions included with the Tannerite Exploding Target direct the consumer to mix the two pre-measured substances in the empty canister and to detonate it with a high powered rifle,” the lawsuit states.
The two agencies will split the sum of the civil penalties and investigative costs. The two individuals previously fined for sparking the General Fire are also to be paid $50,000, according to the final judgment.
In response to the county’s complaint, the company initially denied the allegations and stated the product was safe when used properly. The company directs consumers to use the targets “away from populated areas,” and tells consumers that improper use “may start fires and may be less safe to handle.”
The company agreed to the final settlement, to pay the counties $300,000, and to no longer make any statements to California consumers that the targets will not start a fire or are legal.
The company agreed to include the following statement with its marketing material:
“Some jurisdictions require a permit or license to use or possess the Tannerite exploding target. Check with local law enforcement prior to purchasing this product.”