The so-called chemical bomb made by four CSU women basketball players earlier this month was comprised of common household ingredients, police said.
And though it may have been harmless, the law doesn’t discriminate when it comes to explosives.
According to Jim Sullivan, patrol lieutenant at the Larimer County Sheriff’s office and squad commander for the Colorado Bomb Squad, bombs such as the one used in the prank are common and instructions on how to make one are easy to obtain.
“The majority of bombs that we run into are homemade,” Sullivan said. “We call them ‘improvised explosives.’ It is very easy to find information on how to make them and I do not know of any government action to restrict this type of information. With the Internet, people can find anything.”
A Google search of “how to make a bomb” brings up one page of relevant results.
In chemistry class, students are taught which chemicals react with each other and which ones, when combined, would create an explosion. Some people conduct their own experiments – things like putting a Mentos in a two-liter bottle and watching it explode and spray everywhere. Would a chemistry experiment gone wrong and a Mentos explosion be considered a bomb?
“Anything that goes ‘boom’ and creates noise, heat, and an explosion, we consider to be a bomb,” Sullivan said.
According to Sullivan, the Colorado Bomb Squad has pursued 29 bomb calls in Larimer County in the past year. Sullivan says that nationally there are normally thousands of calls a year. However, that does not necessarily mean that each of the calls actually resulted in a bomb.
Other than malicious intent, what would motivate someone to want to make a bomb? Sullivan says it is because of curiosity.
“The majority of bombs are made because people are curious. They make them because they want to watch something blow up,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan believes that people should not use their curiosity to endanger the lives of others.
“I read an article . that the parents of the CSU players were making an excuse for them by saying that it was just a prank,” Sullivan said. “It is not just a prank. Anyone who makes a bomb for whatever reason is endangering lives and they could really hurt someone.”
For those who are curious enough to want to make a bomb, the information they would search for would not be hard to find.
The Fort Collins Library used to have a book titled “The Anarchist Cookbook” by William Powell. It is a book written in 1970 that gives instructions, or “recipes,” on how to make explosives.
“The fact that we had the book was very controversial because it said how to make bombs and it angered a lot of people in the community,” Sarah Scobey, the reference librarian at the Fort Collins Library said. “Even at the library it would not be too hard to find that kind of information. A lot of our chemistry texts have that kind of stuff.”
The Harmony Library also has a similar book called “The Poor Man’s James Bond” by Kurt Saxon. The book explains how to blow up a car and how to make poisons. The library also has magazine articles on their magazine database on how to make bombs. Anyone who walked into the library and wanted to check out these materials would be able to get away with it unscathed.
“We would borrow those resources for any library card holder without any problem,” said Rob Stansbury, a library assistant at the Harmony Library,
Even the Morgan Library has two books on how to make bombs; one titled “How to Build a Nuclear Bomb and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction.”
The information needed to make a bomb is right at the criminal’s fingertips, though the action is still illegal. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives, as of May 24, 2003, it is illegal to purchase or receive explosives without a federal license or permit.
Just keep your Mentos and soda in different cabinets.
Staff writer Taryn Clark can be reached at email@example.com.