Guest column/It’s time for Ohio to loosen grip on consumer fireworks

The time is overdue for Ohio to follow the lead taken by New York in legalizing the sale or 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 Buckeye 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 Ohio with strict and common-sense regulations.

Since 1994, there has been a 59.3 percent increase in the 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 the 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 used 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, jet skies 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 commercial 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. Future 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.”

Ohio Legislators have the power to change the fireworks laws and permit the regulated sales and use of the full line of consumer fireworks in the state. Take Ohio out of the consumer fireworks dark ages and into the modern era.

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

(Weimer is vice president of Youngstown-based Phantom Fireworks.)