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Guest column/It’s time for Ohio to change fireworks regulations

June 24, 2012
By WILLAM A. WEIRMER , The Herald-Star

This year Maine and Michigan both changed their state laws to allow citizens to use the full line of all consumer fireworks to celebrate the freedoms we cherish in America. In 2011, Kentucky changed its fireworks laws to allow all consumer fireworks, and Utah relaxed its laws to allow aerial repeaters.

Other states and areas currently involved in efforts to change the types of consumer fireworks citizens will be permitted to use include West Virginia, Minnesota and Puerto Rico. What about Ohio?

This movement in the United States to relax the consumer fireworks laws is driven by the fact that the products are safer with related injuries being fewer, the economics of states losing revenue and taxes to neighboring states and the overwhelming desire of Americans to celebrate the Independence Day holiday with fireworks as envisioned by John Adams on July 3, 1776, when the future U.S. president opined in a now famous letter to his wife, Abigail, 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."

The legislators in Ohio have the ability to dispatch the liars' form, take Ohioans out of the shadows of illegality and reshape the consumer fireworks laws in Ohio. This is overdue.

The time has come to re-evaluate the anti-consumer fireworks laws in Ohio. Fireworks have never been safer and their use continues to increase every year. This alone provides a strong case for the regulated and sensible use of all consumer fireworks.

In 1994, America imported 117 million pounds of fireworks, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 12,500 fireworks-related injuries in the United States. By 2010, our fireworks imports grew more than 75 percent, to 205.9 million pounds, but the number of fireworks-related injuries dropped by more than 31 percent to 8,600. This is phenomenal progress in safety for the fireworks industry.

It is indeed unfortunate that illegal explosives and unlicensed and unregulated devices seem to materialize each year in response to consumer demand. These illegal and dangerous devices can be virtually eliminated by making legal, regulated consumer fireworks available to the public.

Now is the time to write or e-mail your legislator and ask for support to legalize consumer fireworks in Ohio. With full legalization in Kentucky, Maine and Michigan, there are now only four states in the entire country that outlaw all types of consumer fireworks. Take Ohio out of the consumer fireworks dark ages and into the 21st century.

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

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

 
 

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