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July 08. 2014 10:47PM

Ban fireworks? Get serious

Another Independence Day fireworks injury, another public official calling for a ban on all fireworks. We wonder whether anyone really gets the meaning of Independence Day anymore.

After a couple of mishaps over the July 4 weekend, state Fire Marshal William Degnan has called for a state fireworks ban. Two men in Pelham were injured by a reloadable mortar device, and one of them sustained a serious hand wound. Two years ago, in the same neighborhood, 13 people were injured in an accident involving hundreds of exploding reloadable mortars. Degnan says it’s time to ban them.

Reloadable mortars are dangerous. But the 2012 incident was hardly the fault of the devices. Someone had stored 344 of them on a deck, and an aerial spinner, a different firework, landed on them, setting them off. If there is a case to be made for banning them, these two accidents hardly make it.

But Degnan goes further. He wants to ban all fireworks. They’re dangerous, he says. Well.

According to an April report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the average rate of fireworks injuries in the United States over the last 15 years has been 3.2 injuries for every 100,000 people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average annual rate of traumatic brain injuries sustained in youth sports is 298 for every 100,000 people.

No serious person would advocate banning youth sports, which are vastly more dangerous than fireworks. And no serious person should advocate banning fireworks. Freedom is risky. But it’s better than the alternative.


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