- Posted by Jake Chapman
- On March 19, 2014
- 0 Comments
- American Fireworks Standards Laboratory, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Fireworks, Iowa
Op-Ed published in The Des Moines Register on March 19, 2014
The topic of consumer fireworks brings about an emotional reaction from many people, and sometimes with opinions in stark contrast of one another. Recent polls show that a solid majority of Iowans support legalization of consumer fireworks for several good reasons.
Between 1976 and 2011, the use of consumer fireworks in the United States increased by over 700 percent. During this same period, fireworks-related injuries dropped by over 89 percent, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s true. There are no other consumer products with any associated risk on which the commission maintains injury statistics with such an impressive record. Our neighbors in Indiana and Minnesota have also experienced a reduction in injuries after legalization.
I have found that with targeted safety messaging from the fireworks industry and enforcement agencies, like the state fire marshal, a more knowledgeable and safety-conscious public will result. With a safer product and a more educated consumer, I believe the time is now for Iowa to join the ranks of some 37 other states in the country and make legal the sale and use of consumer fireworks.
Since the federal prohibition on explosive fireworks commonly known as “cherry bombs” or “M-80s,” the greatest threat of harm has come from individuals attempting to manufacture their own home-made fireworks. Home-made fireworks don’t go through the rigorous testing and safety inspections conducted by the American Fireworks Standards Laboratory.
Baseball bats, trampolines and Christmas lights all have much higher instances of reported injuries than consumer fireworks. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 200,000 children will be seen in hospital emergency rooms this year for injuries sustained while riding a bicycle, yet no one would think to suggest criminalizing that summer time activity.
The legal sale of fireworks will create hundreds of jobs, promote business and economic development and create an entirely new revenue stream in the state. Iowans are currently driving across the borders to fireworks stores in an effort to celebrate their independence with family and friends. Why shouldn’t we give our citizens every opportunity to legally purchase and use fireworks in their own state?