The time is overdue for Delaware to follow the lead taken by New York in legalizing the sale and use of certain consumer fireworks. New York is the 47th state to make some level of consumer fireworks legal for sale and use.
The facts are clear that residents of the First State do not need protection from the legislature in prohibiting them from using consumer fireworks.
Since 1994 there has been a 59.3-percent increase in use of fireworks in the United States, measured by imports that grew from 117 million pounds in 1994 to 186.4 million pounds in 2013.
Against this substantial increase in use of fireworks, the actual number of fireworks-related injuries during the same period dropped by 8.8 percent as reported by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. If you measure injuries per 100,000 pounds of fireworks used, during the same period, the rate per 100,000 pounds of fireworks sued dropped from 10.7 to 6.1, or 42.9 percent.
More than 36 percent of the reported injuries in the CPSC statistics resulted from illegal firecrackers, public displays, altered devices and unspecified devices that are not consumer fireworks. This makes the reduction in the rate of consumer-fireworks-related injuries even more impressive.
This reduction in the rate of product-related injuries is unmatched by any other consumer product with any risk associated with it such as trampolines, motorcycles, personal watercraft and the like.
In addition to New York, in the past 10 years or so, the following states have liberalized their laws relative to the sale and use of consumer fireworks: Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Utah.
The consumer fireworks products are safer today than they have ever been before. The sale of consumer fireworks can raise some badly needed revenue for government.
Americans love fireworks. Fireworks and the celebration of the Fourth of July Independence Day are synonymous.
Then-future U.S. President John Adams, on July 3, 1776, in a now-famous letter to his wife, Abigail, mused that Independence Day “ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, bonfires and illuminations (fireworks) from one end of this continent to the other, from this day forward forevermore.”
Delaware legislators have the power to change the fireworks laws and take their constituents out of the shadows of uncertainty and illegality and bring Delaware to parity with the 47 other states that permit the sale and use of some level of consumer fireworks. This is too long overdue.
Write or email your legislator and ask for legalization of consumer fireworks in Delaware. Take Delaware out of the consumer-fireworks dark ages and into the modern era.
Please enjoy the Independence Day holiday weekend with your family and celebrate safely.
William A. Weimer