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In the Pipeline: Ban fireworks? Don't punish law-abiding majority

July 11, 2013|By Chris Epting
  • The Huntington Beach City Council will soon decide whether to keep safe and sane fireworks legal within the city.
The Huntington Beach City Council will soon decide whether… (Chris Epting )

So how was your Fourth of July?

For most of us, it was a classic Huntington Beach holiday. Tens of thousands of beachgoers packed the sand, cooked out, enjoyed the parade and of course gathered around many bonfires into the night.

But there was a lot of discussion the next day about the number of illegal fireworks that were heard and felt around the city. Also, some people I know were trying to draw a connection between the newly legal "safe and sane" fireworks and the heavy-duty mortars that rocked many neighborhoods.

For the record, just like last year, my family enjoyed a large box of fireworks that were sold legally in Huntington Beach and benefited one of the nonprofits chosen as vendors. I know there were concerns by some, including law enforcement, that legalizing "safe and sane" fireworks would lead to more use of illegal fireworks. But I just don't see the connection.

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Did I notice a lot of booming and thunder that night? Absolutely. But I noticed that in the years before the sale of legal fireworks was permitted. And not just in Huntington Beach. Illegal fireworks burst, blare and flare all across Orange County and the rest of California.

Did it seem particularly worse this year? To me, not really. Those whose opinions I trust told me things were far worse this year in their neighborhoods, and I take those people at their word. I saw some of the posted videos and, yes, it was absurd.

However, I still don't see the connection between the legal and illegal fireworks. "Safe and sane" fireworks are barely fireworks at all. There are no explosives or projectiles, merely colorful, sparkling fountains of light that occasionally hiss and pop a bit. Certainly nothing, as long as a responsible adult is in charge, should prompt any serious concerns.

We are talking about small driveway setups that provide a nice bit of flashy entertainment, especially for children. As far as any residual damage, in our neighborhood at least, I didn't see a speck of paper on the ground the next morning. People were responsible and all seemed to have a good time.

Yet some people want to again ban "safe and sane" fireworks on the premise that the prohibition will help control the heavier artillery. But why punish the thousands of people who play by the rules and enjoy the simple pleasure of a small and colorful light show that, whether people like it or not, has become a firm part of American tradition?

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