Loosen up laws on fireworks in Illinois

Loosen up laws on fireworks in Illinois
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Loosen up laws on fireworks in Illinois

I boiled eggs the other day on the stove, and when I was done, I was smart enough not to put my hand on the grill cover where the eggs were boiled. So, I didn’t get hurt. Why is lighting a sparkler or a few bottle rockets, or small firecrackers any more dangerous? We don’t pass laws preventing people from using their stoves. Why should we have laws imposing commonsense on some of the less dangerous fireworks and deny ourselves some 4th of July fun in Illinois?

By Ray Hanania

Ray HananiaLast year, 15 people lost limbs using illegal fireworks in Illinois, up from six the year before mostly from the use of more powerful fireworks like M-80s, “Cherry bombs” and “hammer bombs.

Many people were injured form mishandling sparklers, touching the white-hot wire left after the sparkler magnesium burns down.

The irony in all this is that all explosive fireworks and rocket-type fireworks are banned by law in Illinois.

Like anything, people are going to use them regardless of what the law says. No matter what the law says, people will get hurt.



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Various bottle rocket fireworks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Various bottle rocket fireworks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s the same with anything, including drugs. Alcohol is a drug just like heroin. Too much of either will kill you, and even result in injury to others. Yet, we only ban one, not the other.

Why? Because the bottom line comes down to one simple principle, there are people who act responsibly, and people who don’t act responsibly.

But should those who are responsible continue to be hostage to the irresponsible?

It’s a lot like the issue of gun ownership. Some people are criminals and will do whatever they are going to do no matter what the laws are. Others are just irresponsible, and do stupid things like misuse guns, drugs and even fireworks.

I’m not advocating that we loosen our laws on guns. But I do believe that we can carry this policy of trying to impose responsibility on people through legislation a little too far, especially when dealing with things like fireworks.

Fireworks Confiscated by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. Photo Courtesy of the Cook County Sheriff

Fireworks Confiscated by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. Photo Courtesy of the Cook County Sheriff

I used fireworks when I was a kid. I’d drive my bike from Pill Hill down Torrence Avenue to Brainard into Indiana border to the first retailer across the border. Black Cat firecrackers, and a few cherry bombs and hammer bombs, too. I bought the small bottle rockets and the big bottle rockets.

My dad told me not to use them, but I did behind his back.

The point is, you can’t prevent people from doing something that they want to do. And when the risk is to themselves, should government be in the business of telling us what to do and not do, like government is my father?

Indiana still sells fireworks. Anyone driving on I-80 between Illinois and Indiana knows that. And so do Indiana firework retailers like Krazy Kaplans, which buys big billboards that face Illinois when you are driving into Indiana. You don’t have to be a genius to know where the big market is.

And you don’t have to be a government official to define what is good and bad for the public when it comes to some choices.

Used responsibly, smaller fireworks like firecrackers and bottle rockets and even some of the more elaborate Roman Candles and sparkler spinners can be fun for families.

I think we need to change the laws to allow the sale of these fireworks. There is absolutely no more logic in banning fireworks than in not banning alcohol.

You can’t legislate responsibility, commonsense or doing the right thing. All government should do is get professionals to recommend procedures and proper rules of usage to minimize accidents and reduce the incidents of injury.

No matter what laws we pass or how tough and restrictive they are, people will break them and injuries will also occur.

What we can do is be responsible, use commonsense and allow people to enjoy themselves. There are always going to be risks. Government and laws can’t protect everything. You have to have respect for the ability of people to make their own decisions and make their own choices. You can’t force people to live the way you want them to live.

I think if people want to use some fireworks to celebrate our Democracy and our American lifestyle this 4th of July, they should be able to do it without having government tell them what’s right and what’s wrong.

But if we can’t ease up on some fireworks, to allow people to celebrate our independence, then why stop at drugs, guns and prostitution. Let’s ban everything.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and author. Reach him at rghanania@gmail.com.)

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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