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Fireworks: Freedom of Expression or Fire Hazard?

Posted by Noah Guiney  July 3, 2013 01:15 PM

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Across the country, the Fourth of July is a time to celebrate America’s birthday by taking in an awe-inspiring fireworks display. In Massachusetts, it’s also time to revisit the seemingly endless debate on whether fireworks should be legalized. The Bay State is one of only four states to prohibit the use and sale of fireworks by individuals. State legislators -- such as former representative Richard Bastien from Gardner -- have had trouble legalizing products that many see as dangerous. But pyrotechnic enthusiasts argue that fireworks are now safer than ever, and that banning roman candles denies large amounts of tax revenue to the state.

How do you feel about the prospect of legalizing fireworks in Massachusetts? Should patriotic Americans have the right to shoot off firecrackers to their hearts’ content, or should we leave explosive entertainment to the professionals on the Esplanade? Below are some thoughts on the issue. To weigh in, comment below, or tweet at the hashtag #legalfireworks.

Catch up with the rest of the country

newjenmug_bigger.jpgIn California and elsewhere, legal fireworks are marked “safe and sane.” Here in Massachusetts, we’re safe and insane, secure in the straitjacket of the nation’s strictest fireworks laws, while rocking in the Cradle of Liberty. “Leave the fireworks to the professionals,” the state fire marshal says in his video message. Two hundred years and a powdered wig ago, he’d have said, “Leave the governance to the Georges.” I’m no fire marshal, but I do know how to hold a sparkler in a manner in which I retain all my digits. Of course, that knowledge comes from experience. Growing up in South Carolina, I visited Casey’s Fireworks every July 3 and Dec. 31 to purchase playthings with fuses, which I would then set off in the front yard with no adult supervision. Times have changed, yes, it’s true. The fireworks have gotten safer.
Jennifer Graham @mypetdemocrats
Globe Columnist.
Globe Column, July 1 2013

Show some respect

aca02b4c1189b58138c09e36e42ab8ed_bigger.jpegA great fireworks display is the perfect way to celebrate the Fourth, but it is better for everyone if we leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals. There are some obvious safety concerns that come with shooting off fireworks in largely residential areas made up of closely-packed, wood-frame houses, but besides from that, Boston residents must keep in mind the needs of others as well. Many of our veterans, as well as survivors of the Marathon bombings, suffer from psychological issues relating to post-traumatic stress, and our restraint on the Fourth of July will be seen as a sign of respect for our friends and neighbors still recovering from the wounds that they suffered. Shooting off a DIY fireworks extravaganza from your roof deck isn’t doing anyone any favors. Let’s all celebrate the Fourth of July together, in way that doesn’t alienate those that still need our help.
Noah Guiney @NoahGuiney
Boston Globe Editorial writer

No fire works in MA? As if!

We can't just build a wall around Massachusetts

rich Bastien.jpegSimply put, the ban that we have doesn't work. Anyone in Massachusetts can drive an hour and purchase fireworks. Given that fireworks are being used at any point in any day, it makes sense to legalize them, as 46 other states have done, and bring that sales tax revenue back into the state. People can be either for or against fireworks and I respect their opinions on it. I have had people come up to me and say that they have had stressful reactions to fireworks, but my answer to that is that that doesn't stop them from being used. Short of putting a 37-foot wall around the state, we can't keep fireworks out.
Richard Bastien @RichBastien
Former state representative from Gardner

Stephen D. Coan, the state fire marshal, posted a video on YouTube urging Massachusetts residents to obey the law this Fourth of July.

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