A sparklers red glare
Posted at 10:02 AM on March 13, 2008 by Michael Marchio (3 Comments)
Few things embody summer more than that smell of charred-out fireworks remains. And if Sen. Dan Sparks (DFL-Austin) has anything to say about, the fireworks this year are going to be bigger than ever before.
SF3279, being heard today in the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee, would allow an increase in the amount of gunpowder legally allowed in fireworks from 200 grams to 500 grams.
Now I know what you're thinking - does this mean that Minnesota will join the ranks of states that fire bottle rockets, Roman candles, and artillery shells into the night sky? No, the rule of thumb that anything which shoots into the air and blows up is illegal would still stand if this goes into effect.
Here's what it would do: for fountains and other types of fireworks legal in Minnesota, gunpowder is divided into no more than 75-gram tubes built into the base of the firework. By increasing the amount of gunpowder allowed, more tubes can be added, so the firework will last longer.
States have a pretty wide range of approaches toward what they allow and what they don't for fireworks. Until 2002, Minnesota didn't allow any fireworks either, a ban that had stood since 1941.
A recent study concluded from hospital discharge data that injuries from fireworks had doubled since the change in law, from 39 per year during 1999-2001 to 92 per year during 2002-2005. We'll see if that is brought up during the hearing.
Injuries = ???
scratches? burns? severe burns? 39 to 92 sounds horrible, but are they all serious? Going to the hospital does not automatically mean so.
Are they going to compare the injury data to other states (or regions) with similar populations, which also ban fireworks?
Perhaps they should also compare injury rates to other civilized countries where there are few, if any, regulations on fireworks. I was in Berlin, Germany, over New Years a few years ago. New Year's Eve is their monster-firework night: the full 48 hours of Dec 31 and Jan 1 are a free-for-all.
We went out to light off some stuff that would be legal here - fountains, sparklers, etc. The fellow next door, so help me god, had a 3-barrel launcher that sent professional-style fireworks about 1000 feet in the air. He was not unique. The *entire* city - and it is a pretty sprawling city for Europe - was shooting off fireworks like there was no tomorrow. It sounded like the bombing of Berlin all over again.
Of course, they're a lot more emphatic about personal responsibility over there too.
Buy what you want. Pay through the nose after your homeowner's insurance policy refuses to replace your incinerated porch or your health care decided you really don't need cosmetic surgery to replace your eyebrows.
Posted by Elizabeth T. | March 18, 2008 11:44 PM
Thanks for sharing that Elizabeth, its interesting that all that stuff would be available in Germany, I would've guessed they - like most European countries - would be more restrictive on that kind of stuff than the United States, not less. But then you always see those videos, like these ones, of European fireworks factories blowing up, so I guess they have to go somewhere.
Posted by Michael Marchio | March 20, 2008 3:58 PM
I am a big fan of fireworks. It is exciting to hear that Minnesota is gradually starting to remove its regulations on them. At this rate we may have some areal and explosive fireworks legalized here in a few years. That would be great!