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Why at least some fireworks should be legal Answered

Check out this column from the San Francisco Chronicle, arguing in favor of keeping at least some fireworks legal. Good stuff.

An excerpt:

This country was founded on blowing stuff up, and 231 years later it continues to be the thing that we do best. And yet in the past few decades, almost every Bay Area municipality has banned the use of fireworks within city limits. It's like we don't even want to be Americans anymore.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger can build secret execution chambers at San Quentin. He can certainly declare some kind of statewide emergency to legalize fireworks. Think about that for a second. We're the most badass state in the most badass nation on the planet. Our governor once removed his own retina with a scalpel, then drove his car into a police precinct and gunned down all the cops inside. (Technically, it was a role he was playing. But still ... .) You're telling me I can't light up one measly sparkler on my backyard patio without receiving a $1,000 fine?

To be completely fair, I don't have a ton of actual facts to contribute to the debate. I only did 15 minutes of research for this column -- and approximately two-thirds of that time was spent watching some dude on YouTube blow up a sand castle with an M-80.

But I grew up in the Bay Area when fireworks were legal almost everywhere, and I don't remember any rogue ground flowers causing four-alarm structure fires. We enjoyed setting off our own Safe and Sane fireworks, and my high school classmates didn't all have molten claws for hands. Is it possible that the chances of serious property damage or injury with responsible fireworks use are actually quite remote?

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ninefingers (author)2011-06-22

I don't think the fines should be so stiff. I never saw a fireworks-related "fire" (I think it's hard to prove What caused a fire.) Biut most wildfires are caused by Lightning, even in CA (sorry, smokey...) I can't see a $1,000 fine plus a criminal record for a firecracker when Richard Doghmler (sp?) canjust walk up to a Wal-Mart and buy ammo to blow away Gabby Giffords....makes no sense....

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Brennn10 (author)2007-08-31

Meh, PA allows us to have pretty wimpy fireworks. I have a firework outlet near my Ski home, but sadly, we need an out of sate license to see the "good stuff" if you may call it.

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westfw (author)2007-08-31
Here's another one. "Haunted Mansion", the 2006 winner.

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Easy Button (author)westfw2007-08-31

Wow,those are pretty amazing.

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westfw (author)2007-08-29

This is the winning "class C unlimited" display at this years PGII convention.
That means that all the fireworks you see are legal for consumers to purchase, at least at the federal level (most states have additional restrictions.) Of course, you're probably looking at a relative ferocious dollar/second burn rate here!

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westfw (author)westfw2007-08-31
Some data on the display:
Setup was about 2 full days with a team of about 5 people.The show was scripted using SmartShow and fired using a Pyromate SmartFiresystem with 20 modules.366 cues and over 400 ematches.  I don't know exactly how many effects.  IfI had to guess, I would say about 1000 total tubes.Shows like that take an experienced choreographer about 5 hours on thecomputer.  This was the first time Ron scripted his own show with my help.I think it took him about 14 hours.

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70% + 30% (author)2007-07-05

just because they are illegal does not mean you cant get them. there are sites all over the net that sell the supplies to make them. the down side is that they are "illegal" and that most of the sites will not sell what they call "KITS" or "A collection of chemicals, fuse, tubes, or other items which are most likely going to be used to make illegal exploding devices" i live in Kentucky and i always say if it's legal in Kentucky it sucks. my grandparents live on a very large farm in Paris, Ky where you cant see anybody for miles. so this is the perfect place for "things that go BOOM!" i do not think that it is smart to make anything like an m-80 but if you can find a good supply of "Indian Blackhead Aluminum Powder" "the Cadillac of ALL aluminum powders" and some potassium perchlorate and can get the right mix (A.K.A look at my name to see the proper mixture)(the first % is the potassium perchlorate) (only measure by weight) you can make a firecracker with a very loud report, the loudest report available. most of this is very dangerous about the only thing that isnt is compressing the Bentonite Clay for the bottom of the firecracker. i had at one time filled a 1inch by 4inch tube with compressed flash powder and i can say it was such a big explosion i have yet to even try it again. it was so big that it caused my friend to go def in one ear for the rest of the day. i also got yelled at because i scared the crap out of the horses and my grandmother. so have fun but dont be stupid, in the case of homemade pyrotechnics bigger isnt better it usually ends up damaging something.

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ll.13 (author)2007-07-03

Are fireworks really illegal in America! :0 what about July 5th?

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LasVegas (author)ll.132007-07-03

Most states allow "safe" fireworks without a license. That includes Class C fireworks such as sparklers, snakes and ground pyrotechnics (No flying or reports). Outside of Clark county here, just about anything is legal (Class B). Unfortunately, there are a lot of people that leave the county to buy the dangerous fireworks and bring them back to the city. Only a small amount are caught and dozens of fires occur on July 4th as a result.

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TheCheese9921 (author)LasVegas2007-07-03

Yeah thats how it is in Michigan, buuuuut not in Ohio or Indiana (about 3 hours away) so about ever 6 months we drive down to an Amish town to get the best meats and cheeses on earth (plus there cheaper than the local deli!) we usually stop at some firework shops when were down there. This is how alot of people get there hands on the good stuff.

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tyleestuff (author)TheCheese99212007-07-03

Last I heard (I'm not a pro or anything, in fact I've never read the laws, just heard other people say) in PA you can buy certain fireworks, but setting them off is a big no no. Every year around the 4th tents pop up along the road selling fireworks but have signs that setting them off could land you a fine. Is it stupid? Yeah but that's PA for you. At least there aren't that many gun laws :)

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tyleestuff (author)tyleestuff2007-07-03

Sorry for the double post BUT I just remembered that the cops don't really care anyways. I have never heard of anyone being fined/arrested/hassled for setting of fireworks of any type. The loophole here is that we can drive to Maryland (or SC preferably), buy a boatload of M80's, drive back and set them off in the backyard. So the laws aren't doing a lot of good. But anyways I can hear fireworks being set off right now outside and no sirens or cop cars, the police really don't enforce it.

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westfw (author)tyleestuff2007-07-03

> The loophole here is that we can drive to Maryland (or SC preferably), buy a boatload of M80's

Hopefully not; M80s are supposed to be banned at the federal level (all over the US.) You shouldn't be able to get them at ANY legal fireworks seller. The bootleg M80 makers cause immense problems for legitimate amateur fireworks makers.

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LasVegas (author)westfw2007-07-04

Yes... The M80s sold in "Fireworks" stores are fake M80s. They're just called that by the Chinese manufacturer. My dad had an explosives license and had real M80s. There's a considerable difference between the two!

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westfw (author)LasVegas2007-07-04

Yeah. Legal firecracker: 50mg flash; stings your fingers a bit. "real M80": 3g of flash; removes fingers. I thought most dealers were careful to call them something different, just to avoid the wrath of the law looking for bootlegs.

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tyleestuff (author)westfw2007-07-04

Yes you are correct, it is just a copy, and are just firecrackers (very small ones). But the package does say M80's. My dad was with us when we bought them and when I picked them up he said "You're going to get those? Aren't those really dangerous? I thought they outlawed those?" Well it turns out that when he was a kid he had the real M80's and someone he knew blew up a toilet at the local country club with one.

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TheCheese9921 (author)tyleestuff2007-07-03

yeah cause everyone does it they cant really do anything, a president said something about this I think

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user

well ya we can get good fireworks from newhampshire they have 1/2 roman candles for $5 its crazy awsome

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LasVegas (author)TheCheese99212007-07-04

Michigan? Last I checked, Las Vegas, Clark County was in Nevada. At least I hope so... I hate snow!

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Easy Button (author)LasVegas2007-07-03

not over hear in mass nothing nadda not even sparklers or those snake things it stinks im not even in the city areas im in a pretty small town

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Pat Sowers (author)ll.132007-07-03
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ll.13 (author)Pat Sowers2007-07-03
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KentsOkay (author)2007-07-03

California? Bad @ss? I'm afraid I must protest. California is only great because of Hollywood. Texas is bad @ss. Larger than most European countries, Texas was a country for six years a 160+ years ago. Texas also has a more powerfull economy. Don't think CA can top that. So long suckers, I'm heading to the firecracker stand, where I can buy enough artillary shells to equip an army.

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Kiteman (author)KentsOkay2007-07-04

No, you want "bad ass", try Florida. I've been to Disney World - all hat spandex. >eww!

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Kiteman (author)Kiteman2007-07-04

... all that spandex ...

(the memory wrecked my command of the keyboard for a moment)

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lemonie (author)2007-07-03

In principle I'm in favour of fireworks and blowing things up, it's an education.
However, some people shouldn't be allowed near fire.

L

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Easy Button (author)lemonie2007-07-04

yes me to (mostly cause its banned in massachusetts)

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Kiteman (author)2007-07-03

Proper fireworks? Illegal?? You poor sods! You can get rockets, mortars, airbombs, the works over here, and I thought we were suffering restrictions because they look at you funny if you order big things. Fireworks are big in my town - Guy Fawkes, Christmas, New Year, birthdays, there's an R in the month, or somebody just realised how long it is since the last show. I used to live two streets away from a guy who could get display-size fireworks and let them off in his back garden - they rattled our windows. Personally, I find it odd (i.e. hypocritical) that a country that loudly defends the right of all and sundry to sleep on a bed of hand grenades will still go all nannystate and ban a bit of paper-wrapped gunpowder.

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ll.13 (author)Kiteman2007-07-04

There is still huge hang ups about the legal age for buying them.

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NachoMahma (author)Kiteman2007-07-03

> Personally, I find it odd (i.e. hypocritical) that a country that loudly defends the right of all and sundry to sleep on a bed of hand grenades will still go all nannystate and ban a bit of paper-wrapped gunpowder.
. That's not near as bad as the only country that has actually used an atomic bomb (and more than once) being upset because other countries are trying to get The Bomb. America - What A Country! Not that I think Iran, N Korea, et al, should have The Bomb, I just don't think we Americans should be saying a whole lot about it.
. Oops! Where did that come from?

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lemonie (author)Kiteman2007-07-03

http://www.blackcatfireworks.ltd.uk/
Have been running a discount fireworks shop on the Huddersfield site in November "up to 70% off".
Often literally straight out of the back of the truck and over the counter.
I spent ~£200 there last year on big stuff (which would have been $300-$400) and filled the boot/trunk.

L

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westfw (author)2007-07-03

In the US, "fireworks" are divided at the federal level into "consumer fireworks" and "professional fireworks." (this used to be "class C" and "Class B"; now there are UN designations.) Then there is further regulation at the state level; several states restrict access to "Safe and Sane" fireworks (essentially, things that don't fly or explode, but including various fountains and ground effects.) Another common level of restruction is "snakes and sparklers only." After the state regulations, county and city regulations come into play, and the end result is that major population centers (say, the entire SF bay area from SF to SJ) have NOTHING legal. Enforcement varies wildly. The variety of fireworks falling under the federal "consumer fireworks" label is actually a pretty impressive batch of stuff. You can put on a near-pro-quality show (somewhat in miniature) with them. The politics on all sides is complex; it's rather common for certain state borders to have fireworks stores selling stuff that cannot be used in that state/county (but can still be sold for use elsewhere, never minding that fireworks are entirely forbidden just across that border.) Sigh. It doesn't help that fireworks have a long tradition of abuse, or that booze is an even more popular holiday tradition, or that quality standards for the largely imported fireworks is a bit "spotty." Most unfortunately, a major effect of tight-assed fireworks laws is to blur the distinction between fireworks that are illegal (for consumers) because they are really dangerous (say, M80s and 3 inch mortars), and the fireworks that are illegal because some local politician didn't want to hear complaints about someone's kid getting burnt on the hot wire of their burnt-out sparkler. Sigh.

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