A father-to-be in Nebraska has been charged for using a binary explosive target mixture and colored chalk to announce that he and his wife are expecting a baby boy.
Ashley and Jon Sterkel just wanted to announce with a bang the news that their first child will be a boy.
But the exploding target they set off with a rifle shot on Saturday, complete with blue smoke to signal a male, provided a bigger blast than they expected.
And on Monday it also resulted in a ticket from the local sheriff.
Jon Sterkel, 26, the owner of a tree-care service, said he has shot off exploding targets on his acreage west of Scottsbluff in the past without problems.
On Saturday, Sterkel used an exploding target and a bunch of blue chalk powder to signal that the expectant couple are having a boy. A video of the explosion was posted on Facebook for friends and family, with Jon shouting out, “It’s a boy!”
Three miles away in Scottsbluff though, some residents thought a house had exploded or a car had blown an engine. The Scotts Bluff County Sheriff’s Office got several calls.
Hearing reports on the local radio station, KNEB, and seeing the reaction on Facebook, Sterkel called the Sheriff’s Office to explain. He also posted an apology on Facebook.
“I would like to apologize for all of the confusion,” he wrote. “This was just our way of announcing what gender our baby was.”
By Monday, Scotts Bluff County Sheriff Mark Overman had completed an investigation of the blast and had issued a ticket to Jon Sterkel for setting off an explosive without a required state permit. The violation is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of $1,000.
Using binary explosive targets and colored chalk to announce whether you’re expecting a boy or a girl is not uncommon in the shooting sports community. A friend of mine just announced that he and his wife are expecting their first child, a boy, in a very similar manner. Videos are typically taken of these reveals, and the videos are then posted to Facebook and Twitter and other social media for family members and friends.
Here’s pair of example of reveals of this type we grabbed off YouTube.
It’s a very cute practice, but in Nebraska it’s a violation of a silly state law to use binary targets without a state-issued explosives permit.
The Nebraska Explosive Control Act is written in such a way that the binary components themselves are readily available for purchase at any gun store, online, or from retail sporting good stores, but the moment the two components are mixed you’re in violation of state law. Because these binary target mixtures are commonly, openly, and lawfully sold, citizens assume that using them as they are designed to be used is lawful, when it is not without a permit.
If a person wants to use a binary target mixture in Nebraska for any purpose, they must first be fingerprinted, photographed, and have a background check run. All to use a simple, safe, and common target mixture commonly used across the nation.
It’s a poorly-conceived law that now has a new father facing the possibility of up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine when he should be saving up for diapers and baby clothes.