of explosives.18 Of these states, California and Oregon are the only two that impose a seven-day waiting period before issuing a permit.19 Some states have adopted good character and competency requirements,20 a few impose storage regulations,21 and some have record-keeping requirements,22 while others mandate that their explosives be marked.23 States that do not have licensing regulations follow the requirements of the federal law.24 No state currently requires that explosives be tagged with identification or detection tracer elements or that explosive materials be rendered inert. However, a few states have adopted regulations restricting the sale, transportation, or use of ammonium nitrate and other precursor chemicals.25
Obviously, all of the existing explosives regulations, and those discussed in the committee's report, are designed to accomplish two complementary objectives: (1) reduce the number of bombing-related injuries (both by requiring or encouraging manufacturers to make safer products and by deterring prospective criminals from acquiring the materials necessary to make bombs) and/or (2) assist law enforcement in catching and successfully prosecuting those who instigate them. To evaluate the efficacy of the proposed technologies and regulatory controls in furthering these ends, it is first necessary to determine how well the criminal justice and tort systems currently address these problems.
In criminal prosecutions, an important element of the state's burden of proof is to identify the defendant as the person who committed the crime. This is not difficult in cases where there is eyewitness testimony. However, if no eyewitnesses are discovered, circumstantial evidence must be used to connect the defendant to the crime. Often, the most compelling circumstantial evidence of the defendant's agency comes from the bomb scene itself. The materials used to construct the bomb frequently are scattered in bits and pieces around the point of detonation. Because these materials typically contain unique design characteristics or distinctive proprietary information, they can be used by investigators to identify the seller and purchaser, or to search for matching materials at the residence or workplace of the defendant. Relying on this type of evidence, how successful are law enforcement officials in tracking down and convicting criminal bombers? Unfortunately, the committee was unable to obtain from either state or federal law enforcement agencies any statistics that would shed light on this question. It is known that the number of criminal bombing incidents decreased 18.5 percent from 1994 to 1995 (the latest year for which statistics are available).26 However, it is unclear both what percentage of these bombing cases resulted in the apprehension and arrest of a suspect, and what percentage of these suspects ultimately were convicted of explosives-related crimes.
Statistics of this sort have been released by Switzerland, which is one of the few countries to require that its domestically manufactured explosives be marked