Guest column/Ohio should come out of fireworks dark ages
I once again write to suggest that the time has come to consider legislation in Ohio to allow for the sale and use of the full line of consumer fireworks.
Consumer fireworks are safer today than they have ever been in the history of our country. John Adams, in a prophetic 1776 letter to his wife, Abigail, suggested that the Independence Day holiday “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.”
Today in America, we celebrate as Adams suggested with the modern version of bonfires and illuminations, that being barbecues and fireworks.
Nothing could be more patriotic, and nothing else quite suffices on the Fourth of July.
In 1994, the American Fireworks Standards Laboratory first began testing consumer fireworks at the factory level in China for compliance with U.S. manufacturing and performance standards. Since 1994, the use of fireworks in America has increased some 77 percent, from 117 million pounds to 207.5 million pounds in 2012. Against this tremendous increase in the use of the products, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that fireworks-related injuries dropped more than 30 percent, from 12,500 in 1994 to 8,700 in 2012.
Forty-six states now permit the sale and use of some level of consumer fireworks. Since 2006, the following states have liberalized their fireworks laws by permitting some additional level of consumer fireworks over what had previously been permitted, ranging from ground-based products to the full line of products: Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Utah.
Legislation has been considered in Iowa, Massachusetts, Virginia and West Virginia.
In considering and enacting the legislation, these states have all recognized the improved safety record of consumer fireworks and the fact that sorely needed revenue could be generated from the sale of the products.
Everyone loves fireworks. People love to watch major league sports, and they also love to play sandlot sports. The same holds true with fireworks. People love to watch professional displays, and they also love to shoot their own backyard fireworks.
Ohio legislators have the power to change the fireworks laws and take their constituents out of the shadows of uncertainty and illegality and bring Ohio to parity with so many other states that permit the sale and use of the full line of consumer fireworks. This is long overdue.
Write or e-mail your legislator and ask for legalization of the full line of consumer fireworks.
Take us out of the consumer fireworks dark ages and into the modern era.
Enjoy the Independence Day holiday with your family and celebrate safely.
(Weimer is vice president of Youngstown-based Phantom Fireworks.)