I just discovered a disturbing piece of information about the school bomb plot in South Carolina. The teenager who formulated the plot apparently acquired the key bomb component through ebay. That component is ammonium nitrate fertilizer. It's the same stuff that was used to blow up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
I was under the impression that after the Oklahoma City bombing the rules on purchasing ammonium nitrate had been toughened up. But apparently not.
Ammonium nitrate is legitimately used as a fertilizer for all kinds of crops. But by adding another, easily purchased ingredient, it becomes one of the most powerful chemical explosives available.
I just checked on ebay. You can buy a 30 pound bag for $52. That's plenty to make a bomb.
Now, I'm all for the unregulated commerce that ebay represents. But there's a real problem with buying dangerous materials in such an anonymous fashion. Anybody -- a disturbed teenager, a terrorist, or a legitimate farmer -- can get the stuff without any cross-checking.
The House passed a bill last year to tighten the sale of ammonium nitrate. But the Senate has yet to act.
We just came within minutes of another explosive disaster. This time at a school. And even after Oklahoma City, after Columbine, after 9-11, our lawmakers can't seem to get the job done.