Niagara Gazette

Web Extra

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 | Photo Reprints
Web Extra
  • NIA iPad pals art 1 120613 Has the iPad lost its swag?

    The company reported this week that sales of its sleek, pricey tablet were down 19 percent from last quarter and 9 percent year-over-year. CEO Tim Cook tried to reassure investors that Apple's new partnership with IBM to sell its devices to IBM's corporate customers will help make iPads ubiquitous in the workplace. "This isn't something that worries us," he said of the iPad sales decline. But the numbers are disappointing no matter how you spin them.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Facebook continues moneymaking trend

    Facebook seems to have figured out - for now at least - the holy grail for all media right now: how to make money selling mobile ads.

    July 25, 2014

  • Police Brutality screen shot. Technology plays key part in battling police brutality (VIDEO)

    Allegations of police brutality are nothing new -- as long as there has been law enforcement, citizens have registered claims that some officers cross the line. But in the last few years, the claims of excessive force are being corroborated with new technology from cell phone cameras, police dash-cams and surveillance videos. 

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Arizona's prolonged lethal injection is fourth in U.S. this year

    Arizona's execution of double-murderer Joseph Wood marked the fourth time this year that a state failed to dispatch a convict efficiently, according to the Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal group.3

    July 25, 2014

  • Vader Darth Vader is polling higher than all potential 2016 presidential candidates

    On the other hand, with a net favorability of -8, Jar Jar is considerably more popular than the U.S. Congress, which currently enjoys a net favorability rating of -65.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 2.00.42 PM.png VIDEO: Train collides with semi truck carrying lighter fluid

    A truck driver from Washington is fortunate to be alive after driving his semi onto a set of tracks near Somerset, Ky., and being struck by a locomotive, which ignited his load of charcoal lighter fluid.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • An oncologist uses scorpion venom to locate cancer cells

    Olson, a pediatric oncologist and research scientist in Seattle, has developed a compound he calls Tumor Paint. When injected into a cancer patient, it seems to light up all the malignant cells so surgeons can easily locate and excise them.

    July 22, 2014

  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Expectations too high for a rehabbing Woods

    Tiger Woods finished near bottom last weekend at Royal Liverpool, drawing out his drought of major tournament wins. Despite the disappointing showing, Woods' return to form remains a matter of when, not if.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • 110720 Walmart.jpg Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
House Ads
AP Video
Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

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