The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Community News Network

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
Community News Network
  • sleepchart.jpg America’s sleep-deprived cities

    Americans might run on sleep, but those living in the country's largest cities don't appear to run on much.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Who should pay for your kids ACT?

    Thirteen states paid for 11th-grade students in all public high schools to take the ACT college admission test this year, with several more planning to join them in 2015.

    August 20, 2014

  • Pets.jpg Why do people look like their pets?

    As much as we might quibble over the virtues and vices of Canis domesticus, however, and over whether human nature is any better or worse than dog nature, even dog fanciers don't usually want to look like a dog.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ice bucket challenge trending up

    Internet trends are a dime a dozen these days. Everything from Tebowing to planking to the cinnamon challenge can cause a wave of social media activity that can last for weeks before fizzling out.

    August 19, 2014

  • Africa goes medieval in its fight against Ebola

    As the Ebola epidemic claims new victims at an ever-increasing rate, African governments in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have instituted a "cordon sanitaire," deploying troops to forcibly isolate the inhabitants in an area containing most of the cases.

    August 18, 2014

  • Democrat? Republican? There's an app for that

    If you're a Republican, you might want to think twice before buying Lipton Iced Tea, and forget about Starbucks coffee. If you're a Democrat, put down that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and throw away the cylinder of Quaker Oats in your pantry.

    August 18, 2014

  • Five myths about presidential vacations

    In the nuclear age, presidents may have only minutes to make a decision that could affect the entire world. They don't so much leave the White House as they take a miniature version of it with them wherever they go.

    August 15, 2014

  • Can 6 seconds launch a career? A generation of Vine stars sure hopes so.

    A year ago, Shawn Mendes filmed himself singing a tentative acoustic cover of the Justin Bieber song "As Long as You Love Me" and put the results on Vine. He wasn't expecting much response. "I didn't really want anything to happen; I just kind of wanted to see what people would think," says Mendes, 16. "I posted that first Vine and woke up the next morning with 10,000 followers. That was pretty cool."

    August 14, 2014

  • Freshman.jpg 8 crucial tips for college freshmen

    With school starting back up around the country, no one has a bigger deer-in-the-headlights look than college freshmen.

    August 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • A night in Ferguson

    For the past week in Ferguson, reporters have been using the McDonald's a few blocks from the scene of Michael Brown's shooting as a staging area. Demonstrations have blown up each night nearby.

    August 14, 2014

E-edition
AP Video
US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Manfred, Torre and MLB Take Ice Bucket Challenge Bank of America Reaches Record $17B Settlement Holder Reassures Ferguson Community With Visit GlobalPost CEO Remembers Foley As a Brave Man Seth Meyers Rolls Out Emmy Red Carpet Obama: World Is Appalled by Murder of Journalist Israel, Militants Trade Fire After Talks Fail Pres. George W. Bush Takes Ice Bucket Challenge Pierce Brosnan's Call to Join the Expendables Changes Coming to No-Fly List 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: Explosions in Gaza As Airstrikes Resume Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape
NDN Video
US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Reggie Jackson's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Are Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon Breaking Up? Motorcyclist Sticks Landing This 'Breaking Bad' Reunion is the Most Hilarious Thing You'll See All Day! President Obama talks about who James Foley was Nicki Minaj Unleashes Her 'Anaconda' On the World Watch Helicopter Perform Aerial Ballet Can Buckeyes fill Miller's void? Victoria's Secret Models Prove They're in Fighting Shape How Brian Hoyer Stacks Up With Johnny Manziel Taylor Swift Reveals New Album 1989 is Full-On Pop Crews rescue elderly woman trapped inside flooded minivan Man Poses for New Mugshot Photo Wearing Shirt with Old Mugshot Photo On It Disquieting times for Malaysia's 'fish listeners' Caught On Camera: Johnny Manziel Obscene Gesture Rita Ora Embraces the Ice Bucket Challenge Bird surprises soccer player Ashley Young during game Chapter Two: Never too late to become an artist Ice Bucket Challenge Goes Viral, Raises Over $15M For ALS
Must Read