The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Legalize Fireworks Now!

Posted on | June 25, 2011 | 11 Comments

Maine’s York County Journal Tribune editorializes in support of a pending bill that would legalize consumer fireworks in that state, to which I say not merely yes, but hell, yes!

Consumer (1.4G) fireworks are much safer today than in the 1960s, when most state fireworks bans were passed. Back then, the great danger was M-80s — quarter-sticks of dynamite — which actually originated as military-issue ordinance used to simulate artillery blasts in training excercises. After World War II, many army surplus stores sold M-80s, and they became popular as fireworks, so that every so often some kid would blow off his fingers. Cherry bombs were another popular high-explosive firecracker, and it was the injuries caused by these that caused the panic that led to so many states completely banning fireworks.

M-80s and cherry bombs have long since been prohibited for sale to consumers by federal law, and yet many state anti-fireworks laws remain in effect, outlawing the beautiful aerial effects of rockets, mortars and multi-tube repeaters which — when used according to safety directions — are as no more dangerous than your backyard barbecue grill.

Professor Glenn Reynolds lives in Tennessee, where consumer fireworks have never been prohibited. This time of year, highways in Tennessee are lined with booths and tents selling fireworks by the truckload. Utterly contradicting the fear-mongering of the anti-fireworks fanatics, fireworks-related injuries are no more common in Tennessee than in states where fireworks are banned.

Why is this? Because when fireworks are outlawed, only outlaws will have fireworks. That is to say, prohibiting fireworks only tends to discourage their use by the responsible and law-abiding, while the rowdy scofflaws will find some way to get their hands on the stuff. Worse yet, sometimes bans on fireworks will cause idiots to try to rig up their own homemade fireworks, often with disastrous results.

Being a stone-cold fireworks freak myself, I’ve written extensively about this issue:

You can see some photos of me and the kids assembling the 2008 show here. Alas, my friend’s video of our 2008 show has been deleted, but here’s video of the 2009 show I shot at Camp FUBAR on Lake Weiss in Alabama (which starts getting good about the 3-minute mark):

And here’s the monster two-minute finale of the big 4th of July show I shot, with the assistance of my then 12-year-old twin sons, in 2005:

If the current “Make My Wife Happy” fundraiser is successful enough to pay the overdue bills — and many thanks to all the readers who have contributed so far — perhaps Mrs. Other McCain won’t mind if I take the kids on a little Alabama vacation for the 4th of July.

So hit the tip jarit’s for the children (and maybe the fireworks, too).


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