Perspective - Fireworks

When Independence Day rolls around we Americans like to celebrate the fact that we are a free country. Yes, we have laws and restrictions, but we get to decide what be believe in, how we dress, what we will do for a living. We have the ability to question our government without fear of retaliation. We have the right for peaceful assembly and freedom of press. There are so many things that make this nation great, that we feel the need to celebrate it. Many people choose to celebrate our independence by using fireworks.

Why do we use fireworks on Independence Day? First a little history. Fireworks were created in China around A.D. 600-900. Although first used in battle for signals and scaring the enemy, they were soon used for celebrating important events. It has now became commonplace to use fireworks on several holidays all over the world.

I love fireworks. They have always fascinated me ever since I was a small child when I saw my first fireworks go off. Since then, Independence Day has become one of my favorite holidays. Many people don't understand why anyone could like fireworks so much. These people are often the ones that just watch them and never actually get involved with them.

In order to fully appreciate fireworks you have to actually take part in their usage. Just sitting on the grass watching them at night is not the way to do it. Fireworks are infinitely more exciting if you light them yourself. You get so much more of a rush when you light the fuse and run away to watch the beauty that you've set in motion. However, it seems that many of the states in our country don't really want people to do this.

Each state is allowed to set laws on which fireworks they will allow and which ones are banned. Some states will allow all class 'c' (consumer class) fireworks. Consumer class fireworks are so named because they aren't as powerful as the ones you see in professional displays. You would assume that class 'c' fireworks would be allowed to the public, but only eighteen states allow all class 'c' fireworks. Twenty states allow the weaker class 'c' fireworks like sparklers and fountains, my state is one of those. Four states allow only very basic, (i.e. boring) fireworks including sparklers and other novelties. Sadly, there are eight states that have banned all fireworks of any form.

I've always wondered why certain states would ban certain types of fireworks. When taken to an open area and used properly, fireworks have little chance of causing damage or injury and are amazingly beautiful. Can you imagine being a child in the state Georgia and not even being allowed to use sparklers? You can't even use little paper snappers in the state of New Jersey. Why not? Why are fireworks considered so dangerous?

Law enforcement, safety groups, and concerned parents have been distorting the facts for years. Every year before Independence Day they show examples of what can happens when an accident occur involving fireworks. They usually take M-80's and blow up watermelons and plastic dummies. This is a distortion of the facts for two reasons. First, M-80's have been federally illegal since 1970 because they are too dangerous (2g of flash powder). These news reports should be showing just plain class 'c' M-88's, which would cause very little damage to their targets (50mg of flash powder). Second, despite what they show, the human body is actually stronger than plastic or fruit, I know it's hard to believe.

The news always likes to give statistice of last year and you get the typical injury reports. Thousands injured, several killed. While that may seem like a high number, lets try and put it in perspective. Allow me to give you some other statistics.

Each year in the USA approximately,
4,000 people die from alcohol poisoning or other complications.
17,000 people die in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes.
29,000 people die from firearm-related injuries
400,000 people die from smoking-related causes
10 people die from fireworks-related injuries

So alcohol, tobacco, and firearms kill around 450,000 people each year and fireworks kill around 10 people each year. Alcohol, tobacco, and firearms are legal in every state. Fireworks are not. Why is that? Because fireworks are so dangerous? They don't even account for one percent of accidental deaths, not even a tenth of a percent!

Many people argue that fireworks don't need to be legal because nobody needs them. Of course, nobody needs tobacco, but it's still legal. Just because you don't need something doesn't mean it should be illegal, that goes against the grain of whole foundation of the USA. Nobody needs alcohol, but it's legal.

One of the great things about America though, is that there are laws to prevent law enforcement from stopping people who break the law on the off chance that the laws are wrong. I personally think that the laws regarding fireworks are blown way out of perportion, and I will continue to break the law every Independence Day with fireworks that my state deems too dangerous.