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Illinois should loosen up its restrictions on fireworks

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Illinois should loosen up its restrictions on fireworks

I boiled eggs the other day on the stove, and when I was done, I was smart enough not to put my hand on the grill cover where the eggs were boiled. So, I didn’t get hurt. Why is lighting a sparkler or a few bottle rockets, or small firecrackers any more dangerous? We don’t pass laws preventing people from using their stoves. Why should we have laws imposing commonsense on some of the less dangerous fireworks and deny ourselves some 4th of July fun in Illinois?

By Ray Hanania

Ray HananiaLast year, 15 people lost limbs using illegal fireworks in Illinois, up from six the year before mostly from the use of more powerful fireworks like M-80s, “Cherry bombs” and “hammer bombs.

Many people were injured form mishandling sparklers, touching the white-hot wire left after the sparkler magnesium burns down.

The irony in all this is that all explosive fireworks and rocket-type fireworks are banned by law in Illinois.

Like anything, people are going to use them regardless of what the law says. No matter what the law says, people will get hurt.

Various bottle rocket fireworks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Various bottle rocket fireworks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s the same with anything, including drugs. Alcohol is a drug just like heroin. Too much of either will kill you, and even result in injury to others. Yet, we only ban one, not the other.

Why? Because the bottom line comes down to one simple principle, there are people who act responsibly, and people who don’t act responsibly.

But should those who are responsible continue to be hostage to the irresponsible?

It’s a lot like the issue of gun ownership. Some people are criminals and will do whatever they are going to do no matter what the laws are. Others are just irresponsible, and do stupid things like misuse guns, drugs and even fireworks.

I’m not advocating that we loosen our laws on guns. But I do believe that we can carry this policy of trying to impose responsibility on people through legislation a little too far, especially when dealing with things like fireworks.

Fireworks Confiscated by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. Photo Courtesy of the Cook County Sheriff

Fireworks Confiscated by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. Photo Courtesy of the Cook County Sheriff

I used fireworks when I was a kid. I’d drive my bike from Pill Hill down Torrence Avenue to Brainard into Indiana border to the first retailer across the border. Black Cat firecrackers, and a few cherry bombs and hammer bombs, too. I bought the small bottle rockets and the big bottle rockets.

My dad told me not to use them, but I did behind his back.

The point is, you can’t prevent people from doing something that they want to do. And when the risk is to themselves, should government be in the business of telling us what to do and not do, like government is my father?

Indiana still sells fireworks. Anyone driving on I-80 between Illinois and Indiana knows that. And so do Indiana firework retailers like Krazy Kaplans, which buys big billboards that face Illinois when you are driving into Indiana. You don’t have to be a genius to know where the big market is.

And you don’t have to be a government official to define what is good and bad for the public when it comes to some choices.

Used responsibly, smaller fireworks like firecrackers and bottle rockets and even some of the more elaborate Roman Candles and sparkler spinners can be fun for families.

I think we need to change the laws to allow the sale of these fireworks. There is absolutely no more logic in banning fireworks than in not banning alcohol.

You can’t legislate responsibility, commonsense or doing the right thing. All government should do is get professionals to recommend procedures and proper rules of usage to minimize accidents and reduce the incidents of injury.

No matter what laws we pass or how tough and restrictive they are, people will break them and injuries will also occur.

What we can do is be responsible, use commonsense and allow people to enjoy themselves. There are always going to be risks. Government and laws can’t protect everything. You have to have respect for the ability of people to make their own decisions and make their own choices. You can’t force people to live the way you want them to live.

I think if people want to use some fireworks to celebrate our Democracy and our American lifestyle this 4th of July, they should be able to do it without having government tell them what’s right and what’s wrong.

But if we can’t ease up on some fireworks, to allow people to celebrate our independence, then why stop at drugs, guns and prostitution. Let’s ban everything.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and author. Reach him at rghanania@gmail.com.)

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, author and former Chicago City Hall reporter (1976-1992).

He is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club Lisagor Awards, the 2009 Sigma Delta Chi Award for journalism, and was named Best Ethnic American Columnist by the New America Media in 2007.

His personal web page is The Daily Hookah at www.TheDailyHookah.com (and www.RayHanania.com).

Hanania writes a weekly syndicated column for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia and is the managing editor of the American Arab online news website, www.TheArabDailyNews.com.

His mainstream columns are published in Chicago's Southwest Side and Suburbs in The Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, the Southwest News-Herald and the Des Plaines Valley News.

Hanania is the managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com.

Email Ray Hanania at rghanania@gmail.com

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