Explosives Law and Legal Definition

Explosives are chemical compounds or mixtures that undergo rapid burning or decomposition with the generation of large amounts of gas and heat, leading to sudden pressure effects. The main use of explosives in peacetime is for blasting and quarrying, but explosives are also used in fireworks and signaling flares and for setting blind rivets and forming metals. Explosives are used as propellants for projectiles and rockets and as bursting charges for demolition purposes and for projectiles, bombs, and mines.

Military explosives are divided into two general classes, high explosives and low explosives, according to their rates of decomposition. They may be further classified according to use. Explosives are frequently used by terrorists to cause destruction. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) regulates explosive materials at the federal level. While smokeless powder and black powder generally are exempt from the federal explosives laws, these products are often used to make illegal or "improvised explosives devices" and pipe bombs.