The Washington Times-Herald

Homepage

July 4, 2014

Happy birthday, America. Now legalize fireworks.

I grew up with a responsible, safety-conscious firefighter father. And plenty of fireworks.

It didn't take long to learn which of those forces had the upper hand. One Fourth of July, we almost destroyed our garage trying to set off fireworks in the rain. A rocket went awry, and we were chased down the street by red, white and blue sparks. It was awesome.

Through the smoke of Roman candles and bottle rockets, the absurdity of Americans' obsession with do-it-yourself explosives is nonetheless clear: One day each year, we gather with neighbors, friends and loved ones to blow stuff up in our backyards. Go, U.S.A.!

Well, almost all of us. New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Massachusetts ban the sale and use of fireworks. Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Ohio and Vermont allow only "novelty" -- nonexplosive, nonaerial -- fireworks. (If you can find "novelty" in fireworks that don't fly and don't explode, you have a lower threshold for entertainment than I have.) The rest, including Washington, D.C., allow some or all types of consumer fireworks, which are regulated nationally by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Setting off fireworks on the Fourth of July isn't just fun; it's patriotic. Fireworks are part of an American tradition extending back to the "rocket's red glare" of the country's founding. By 1783, fireworks were available to the public in Philadelphia.

More firework sales mean more revenue in taxes and fees for states. Since 2000, 11 states have eased restrictions on fireworks. Michigan has collected about $2 million more in taxes and fees each year since loosening its rules in 2012. In 2013, U.S. consumers lit up more than 160 million pounds of decorative fireworks, seven times the amount used in display shows, spending $662 million in the process, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association. The majority of that spending -- about 90 percent in 2012 -- goes to Fourth of July celebrations.

Not everyone loves the flashing red lights, however. The National Fire Protection Association and the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks seek to educate consumers about the dangers of fireworks. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, in the month around July 4, about 240 people go to the emergency room daily due to fireworks injuries. There were at least eight fireworks-related deaths and 11,400 injuries in 2013. Sparklers caused 31 percent of the injuries, so maybe don't hit your sister with a stick that can reach 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit while emitting colorful sparks.



 

1
Text Only
Local News
Obituaries
  • Funerals

    RALPH MELTON — A Mass of Christian Burial for Ralph Melton was celebrated at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Mary Catholic Chapel in Loogootee, with Rev. J. Kenneth Walker as celebrant. Burial was in St. John Catholic Cemetery.Pallbearers were John Mattingly,

    August 20, 2014

  • Joseph Jerger
  • Patricia Burks
  • Funerals
Local Sports
Community News
Must Read
Entertainment
Opinions
Clicker Ticker
Times Herald Video
You Need To Know Now!
Featured Ads
Times Herald Photo


2014 Washington Catholic High School Prom

Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: IDF Footage Said to Show Airstrikes Police: Ferguson More Peaceful Raw: Aftermath of Airstrike in Gaza Raw: Thousands March on Pakistani Parliament Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan Fire Crews Tame Yosemite Fire Raw: Police Weapon Drawn Near Protesters, Media Raw: Deadly Landslides in Japan Raw: Explosions in Gaza As Airstrikes Resume Arrests Witnessed in Ferguson Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape Texas Gov. Perry: Indictment 'a Political Act' US Officials: Video Shows American's Beheading Video Shows Ferguson Cop Months Before Shooting Heavy Rains Flood Arizona Roads US Trying to Verify Video of American's Killing FBI Director Addresses Ferguson Shooting in Utah Raw: Police at Scene of St. Louis Shooting Police: 2 Calif. Boys Planned School Shooting NOLA Police Chief Retires Amid Violent Crimes
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide