Blowing up the N.Y. firework ban
Published: Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 10:09
Fireworks are the staple of a Fourth of July party, and when the fireworks aren't being professionally done, where do New York state residents get their fireworks?
They go to Pennsylvania because it's the closest state where fireworks are legal to purchase for out-of-state residents. This could have been changed, but Friday, Sept. 23 New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill that would have legalized sparklers and other small fireworks.
Fireworks are dangerous, and I understand people die every year from fireworks, but keeping fireworks illegal for everyone in the state won't lessen the chances of death.
So many New Yorkers travel to states like Pennsylvania to purchase fireworks and bring them across state borders to be set off at their home. I'm guilty of this myself. It's not illegal for me to purchase fireworks in Pennsylvania. In fact, I can purchase fireworks over state borders more easily than a Pennsylvania resident can.
The illegal part is bringing the fireworks back to New York, but the drive doesn't stop people from doing it. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website, 40 states allow all or some types of fireworks to be purchased in the state legally. Five states only allow sparklers and small fireworks, one state only allows novelty fireworks and four states (New York state included) don't allow any type of fireworks to be sold in the state.
Forty states have legalized fireworks, but that doesn't mean anyone can walk into a fireworks store and purchase these explosives. When I've gone into fireworks stores in Pennsylvania, I've always wondered why it's easier for out-of-state residents to purchase fireworks than in-state residents. It's because Pennsylvania has a law that says fireworks are legal, but a person needs a permit to buy them.
According to the Pennsylvania State Police website, a person needs to apply for a fireworks permit before they can purchase fireworks. This is similar to needing a permit to buy a pistol in New York state. Not everyone will get one, but only people who seem mentally capable of using fireworks and people who have possibly undergone some type of safety course can get a permit.
This makes a lot of sense because then the state can regulate and track who can purchase fireworks. Right now, anyone from New York can purchase fireworks in Pennsylvania as long as the person is 18 or older. Why wouldn't New York want to regulate this better?
People would no longer have to illegally bring fireworks over state borders because they could purchase them in the state, so this would make firework-lovers happy. It would help police and the government to regulate who is buying fireworks and hopefully make sure the people using fireworks take safety precautions so no one gets seriously hurt.
It can also be seen as another way to help the economy. If the state charged people to receive permits, it would give the state some extra cash and it would bring business to the state. It would give jobs to corporations that make fireworks, people who work in the firework stores, people who would be regulating permits and safety courses, and construction workers to make the new buildings.
There aren't many negative aspects of legalizing fireworks in the state. The biggest reason Gov. Cuomo gave for vetoing the bill to legalize sparklers and smaller fireworks was safety concerns. It's understandable that people may be concerned about the safety aspects, but it can be argued the number of deaths caused by fireworks will decrease if they were legalized.
Think about it. Anyone older than 18, no matter what their mental state is, can purchase fireworks in Pennsylvania. That same person can illegally transport them to New York without getting caught and can set them off without knowing how to do it safely. This person may not know the risks and safety issues that go along with using fireworks because they were never told.
Let's say fireworks were legalized and before someone can receive a permit to purchase them in New York, that person had to take a safety course. This person is more educated on the seriousness of fireworks than the person who got them in Pennsylvania, so there is less of a risk of death.
Anyone who is against legalizing fireworks in the state needs to weigh these ideas. Anyone who wants to get fireworks will get them somehow, no matter what the law is. It's too easy to get around.
We need to think of it like gun control. Guns are serious things and we would never allow people to purchase a pistol without a permit in New York state. While I know fireworks are illegal in New York, it's stupid to ignore the fact that people are getting them illegally anyway and getting away with it. People aren't going to stop breaking this law, so let's make sure people are at least doing it safely by legalizing it with permits.