Dry Ice Bomb a DD?

Something doesn’t smell right:

The mother of a 14-year-old boy accused of making bombs out of dry ice appeared in court Tuesday. The woman, 39, is charged with possession of a destructive device and child abuse. She was arrested over the weekend and released on her own recognizance.

Wait a minute, since when is a dry ice bomb a destructive device? But sure enough, look at Nebraska law and it defines it as:

Any explosive, incendiary, chemical or biological poison, or poison gas (A) bomb, (B) grenade, (C) rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces, (D) missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one-quarter ounce, (E) mine, (F) booby trap, (G) Molotov cocktail, (H) bottle bomb, (I) vessel or container intentionally caused to rupture or mechanically explode by expanding pressure from any gas, acid, dry ice, or other chemical mixture, or (J) any similar device, the primary or common purpose of which is to explode and to be used as a weapon against any person or property; or any combination of parts either designed or intended for use in converting any device into a destructive device as defined in subdivision (7)(a)(i) of this section from which a destructive device may be readily assembled.

So it would seem if you pick up some dry ice for your freezer in Nebraska, you better not have any bottles or sealable containers! But there is a section that would get most people out of trouble:

(b) The term destructive device does not include (i) any device which is neither designed nor redesigned for use as a weapon to be used against person or property, (ii) any device, although originally designed for use as a weapon, which is redesigned for use as a signaling, pyrotechnic, line-throwing, safety, or similar device, (iii) surplus ordnance sold, loaned, or given by the Secretary of the Army pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 4684(2), 4685, or 4686, as such sections existed on March 7, 2006, (iv) any other device which the Nebraska State Patrol finds is not likely to be used as a weapon or is an antique, or (v) any other device possessed under circumstances negating an intent that the device be used as a weapon against any person or property;

But it’s interesting that the Nebraska Unicameral considers a dry ice bomb, normally a prank device, to be the equivalent of heavy artillery or weapons of mass destruction legally.

14 thoughts on “Dry Ice Bomb a DD?”

  1. Reading that, it also equates the old standbys of aluminum foil and drano, or MRE heaters and water, with a grenade, RPG, or anti-personnel mine.

  2. Here’s hoping she gets off…I’ve seen it as a prank device, there’s nothing incendiary, little risk involved, and certainly nothing I would consider a “destructive device.” I could do more damage with a hammer.

    “neither designed nor redesigned for use as a weapon to be used against person or property”

  3. Of course it is as unlawful in California as well. From section 12301. (a) The term “destructive device,” as used in this chapter, shall include any of the following weapons:
    (6) Any sealed device containing dry ice (CO2) or other chemically reactive substances assembled for the purpose of causing an explosion by a chemical reaction.
    I quote this section after the work “NO” every time my teenage son asks my to by some dry ice. I need to move to a state where I can do with dry ice what I want to.

  4. Reputo: Nothing, since there was no “intent that the device be used as a weapon against any person or property”, nor was it “designed … to be used against person or property”.

    Now, if you made some and left them against someone’s windows to shatter them, that’d be use against property, by intent.

    (Heck, if you made a big one out of a frangible metal container, you could do real serious damage to someone.)

  5. Having once exploded a 2 liter soda bottle with a small chip of dry ice, and been quite impressed with the sudden release of pressure (not an explosion in a chemical sense at all, just a sudden pressure release), I can say they are scary but not all that dangerous. Holding one when it went off, or putting one inside a closed room with people, would be harmful, but that is about it.

    A hydrogen balloon makes a bang just about as big, and that is indeed an explosion.

    I will only mention the time the boys down the hall from my lab decided to do a late night synthesis of nitroglycerin – they were so worried about it going kaboom that dilution of the 10cc of product in the campus lake was used for disposal, just to be safe.

  6. Reading the original article, I was struck by this line: “Police found and detonated an ice bomb in a plastic bottle.”

    That doesn’t sound right.

    The nature of the “bomb” is such that only the person who prepared it could be said to have detonated it. A dry ice bomb is only a fog machine til you seal the cap. Once you seal the cap, you only have about 20 seconds before the thing ruptures. It sounds like the police decided to dispose of the “destructive device” components by blowing them up.

    Does that mean the police arrested the two, then sat in the suspects’ yard and built their own ice bomb? Or did they actually use some kind of chemical explosive to *neutralize* a 2-liter bottle?

  7. Like I said, something doesn’t smell right. I set off a dry ice bomb when I was a kid. Made a much bigger bang than I thought. I set it off at work too, which brought out the Manager. Fortunately we all said we dropped a palate, which can be quite loud if it hits the ground right. I don’t think he was convinced, but didn’t pursue it further.

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