A Car Bomb A Year Ago Reminds Us That Guns Aren't Only Way To Kill

It was almost a year ago when a man killed himself, his toddler son, and another man with a homemade car bomb in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Such a horrendous crime shook the community and the man’s family, especially because it was carried out in such a spectacular manner. Explosions tend to grab people’s attention.


Now, almost a year after the act, the ATF has released some information about the explosion.

In the days following the Allentown car explosion, the ATF labeled the blast a murder-suicide triggered by Jacob Schmoyer, who targeted his toddler son and an acquaintance.

Since October, ATF investigators have said little about the blast that killed Schmoyer, his 2-year-old son JJ and David H. Hallman. But nearly one year after the massive explosion, the ATF shared some details about the investigation with The Morning Call.

Don Robinson, the special agent in charge at the ATF field division in Philadelphia, said authorities have no indication that Schmoyer suffered from mental illness, nor did anyone know about his plan or help create the bombs.

Schmoyer sent four letters in the days following the explosion, but authorities say they are unsure how long Schmoyer worked to build the two homemade explosive devices. The letters were postmarked several days before the Sept. 29 explosion.

Here are some of the details shared by Robinson about the investigation:

  • Investigators are still working to re-create and test the explosive devices, although they will not detail the materials used to make the bombs or reveal how they were made. Schmoyer created the devices from “commercially readily available materials,” Robinson said. They said the blast was triggered by a “command switch” controlled by Schmoyer.

Note that these were homemade bombs with “commercially readily available materials.” There’s also no evidence that Schmoyer was any kind of explosives expert.


This is very relevant to the gun debate.

When we talk about mass shootings, it’s easy for people to latch onto the weapon used in those killings and scream for regulation. While banning an entire class of weapon won’t have the effect people think it would, there’s also something these folks don’t think about that would happen if it turned out they were right.

If, for the sake of argument, banning AR-15s would eliminate mass shootings, it wouldn’t stop mass killings. Schmoyer only killed three people because that’s all who he intended to kill. Had he wanted to kill more, he could have. Many, many more.

Let’s also remember that the worst act of mass murder on American soil, not counting 9/11, was Oklahoma City. There, too, was a bomb rather than a gun that killed people in an instant.

At least with a gunman, there’s a chance to run or fight back. With a bomb, not so much.

Mass murder isn’t going to go away if you were to successfully end mass shootings. You just force people to shift to far more terrifying methods, methods that aren’t exactly impossible for an ordinary person to carry out.

Always be careful what you ask for because you might get it good and hard.

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