LETTER: End N.C.’s ban on consumer fireworks

William R. Toler | Daily Journal Fireworks fill the sky above the Hamlet Depot and Museums during the city of Hamlet’s Independence Day celebration in 2014. State law allows professional pyrotechnics displays but bans the sale and use of consumer fireworks that leave the ground.

To the editor:

The time is overdue for North Carolina 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 Old North State do not need protection from the legislature in prohibiting them from using consumer fireworks. The time is right for the sale and use of the full line of consumer fireworks in North Carolina with strict and commonsense regulations.

Since 1994, there has been a 59.3 percent increase in the use of fireworks in the U.S. 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 dropped from 10.7 to 6.1, a decrease of 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 Independence Day on July Fourth 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.”

North Carolina legislators have the power to change the fireworks laws and permit the regulated sale and use of the full line of consumer fireworks. This is too long overdue.

Write or email your legislator and ask for legalization of consumer fireworks in North Carolina. Take North Carolina out of the consumer fireworks dark ages and into the modern era.

Please enjoy the Independence Day holiday with your family and celebrate safely.

William A. Weimer

Vice president, Phantom Fireworks

Youngstown, Ohio