Editorial: State should ban some types of fireworks
Fourth of July fireworks are a tradition in New Hampshire – and so too, it seems, are injuries related to the use of reloadable mortar fireworks.
With two incidents in the past three years, the town of Pelham has become the center of debate in the state over whether such fireworks – which are similar to those used in professional fireworks displays – should be outlawed.
In 2012, reloadable mortars were blamed in an accident that injured 13 people in town, and on Friday, a 24-year-old man suffered a severe hand injury while attempting to load a shell into a launching tube.
With the latest accident, State Fire Marshal William Degnan has seen enough. So have we.
While all fireworks are dangerous when used improperly or carelessly, the very nature of reloadable shells increases the possibility of severe injury. Common sense says that to repeatedly place and ignite shells in a cardboard tube invites risk. To add to the difficulty level, Degnan said, the tubes must be set up on a solid, firm surface and the shells loaded properly or the tube itself could explode.
Arguments against any kind of fireworks ban usually rely on false analogy, for instance claiming that more people are injured playing sports than handling fireworks, which means banning sports, while obviously ludicrous, has more validity than banning fireworks. Pushing such fallacies aside, banning a kind of firework that obviously puts users at greater risk makes the same kind of sense as requiring football players to wear a helmet. It’s about taking steps to reduce the potential for injury, not infringing on freedom or tradition.
While we agree with Degnan when it comes to banning reloadable mortars, we must part ways with him on a full fireworks ban.
As state fire marshal, it’s no surprise that Degnan would like to get rid of a form of celebration that causes more than 17,000 fires per year in the United States, according to the National Fire Protection Association, but prohibition and the war on drugs have already provided the data needed to assess the probability of such a ban achieving the desired results.
Instead, Degnan should focus on pushing lawmakers to draft legislation banning reloadable mortar fireworks. He certainly has solid evidence to sway them to action.