Saturday, July 2, 2011

Top Five reasons localities shouldn't ban federal and state approved legal consumer fireworks


Our nations birthday July 4 is coming up. What this means is celebrations with BBQs, flags, parades, music, not to mention the crackles and boom of fireworks throughout the country.
Like every other country in the world this novelty has been among the most decorative and spectacular ways to celebrate a nations birthday. Fireworks are often used to express the red, White, and Blue patriotism of the US. In addition to displays by municipalities, stadiums, and other large gatherings. Many fundrasing groups have been selling fireworks for fund raising. These fireworks which are often labeled as class c consumer fireworks or in some areas Safe and Sane fireworks, these consumer fireworks pass many levels of safety examinations and are not the homemade or the sneak imported explosives that cause many deaths, injuries, and destruction of property. However despite this many localities take a grim view at them and decide to ban them anyways thinking that they are too dangerous and should only be left to the professionals. I can list five reasons that their perception is dangerously wrong and their decision to ban is not only depriving their residents of their ways of traditional patriotic expression, fundraisers of their biggest fundraising opportunity of the year, but placing residents in far greater danger and does nothing to control dangerous use of fireworks.

Five reasons not to ban sales of federal and state approved fireworks

  1. Constitutional Freedom of expression: As long as one doesn't violate the rights of others by acting dangerously/recklessly. Of all the crazy ways this is used I think celebrating in a patriotic way is the most legit use of this right. 
  2. There are many other far more dangerous consumer products: Those who argue that even consumer fireworks or sparklers are unsafe and cause burns think about it there are many other consumer products that can be dangerous such as lighters, matches, fire pits, BBQ, the list goes on and on. Should we ban all of these? After all there would be no way to light fireworks or start fires if people don't have the tools to.
  3. Difficult to enforce and often making the situation worse: Localities Banning fireworks is essentially acting like an ostrich who buries its head into the sand thinking that the dangers would be gone. In fact localities that ban legal fireworks not only has no effect whatsoever on users they tend to have a far greater issue on the news every year of residents or non residents using illicit dangerous unregulated fireworks within the localities limits i.e ones that explode like a bomb throwing shrapnel everywhere possibly causing amputations. It is by common sense impossible for the local government to go after every firework launched within its limit so providing legal alternatives reduces the demand for illicit ones. Sometimes these very dangerous products are surprising easily found on store shelves in those cities who supposedly ban all fireworks.
  4. Deprives fundraisers of them of their largest fundraising opportunity of the year: Their legit way of fund raising using items that gone have passed numerous examinations having to lose to dangerous underground markets. Just like banning sale of the licensed trademarks of movies due to those who sale pirated copies would not prevent media piracy only make the legit sellers lose money giving media pirates unfair advantage.
  5. Goes against the rights and privileges of owning private property: if one can recreational use non licensed or non street legal vehicles within fenced property with permission of the owner one should be able to enjoy fireworks as long as it doesn't leave the ground as one don't own the air above their land. I wonder how people should feel if skateboarding/aggressive inline skating should be banned in even ones own backyard? I have yet to know a locality ban the retail sale of skateboards/in line skates/pocket motorbikes in local stores even if they theoretically ban them everywhere as they know these toys can be used behind a fence on someones land with permission even if banned from use in the public. If they do ban it the manufactures would just head underground and probably build unregulated un-inspected versions that might be even more dangerous.
What should be done?

States should fund localities if they need to extra funding to enforce firework ordinances including fireworks stand sale safety inspections. They should respect the rights of people's celebration and patriotism and fund raisers rights. Public displays or mass scale crowd gatherings present a danger of there own include alcohol intoxicating many drivers making the roads very dangerous, large crowds who might stampede if something goes wrong which can happen with fireworks shows, intoxicated or crazy people playing with fireworks of dangerous kinds in the thick crowds, and more. While it is usually considered acceptable risk it is actually more dangerous than well supervised and responsible use of fireworks at home. Children can use these safely with parent supervision and good preparation which is safer than letting them get lost in the crowd in mass displays. These days these public displays are disappearing cities due to years of poor fund management have to cut police and fire services need to manage such large events with tons of pyrotechnics. Now it is even more important to protect the legal fireworks industry and the fundraisers who sell them.
      States do have the power to forbid a local government from overstepping its authority. Such as in Nevada and some other states forbid local governments from enacting their own bans on cell phone driving. Arizona recently legislated that cities cannot ban the sale of legal fireworks.They can regulated where fireworks can be used though. i.e not on school campuses, major streets and sidewalks, forest area or dry brush, or on private property only as long as not causing excessive noise nor in a manner that cause a fire hazard. Enforcement and fines should be reasonable enough to encourage compliance and try to educate instead of fine as possible and should be matter of civil infraction, fines should be capped from reaching excessive amounts for those who use responsibly but might accidentally stepped out of line in certain ways that might be vague to them, instead crackdown on those who does use fireworks or engage in reckless and dangerous activities, intentional repeat offenders of illicit hazardous fireworks use, and those who cause death, injury due to their wanton disregard of public rights to safety. I guess we should petition are politicians of our state to understand this issue and considering this legislation to protect the rights of citizens and the consumer fireworks industry.

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