Editorial: Loosening law on fireworks makes sense

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 25, 2002

Once a law is on the books, it’s hard to get rid of, and one need look no further than Minnesota’s ban on fireworks for evidence.

Despite the fact that 41 other states allow fireworks in some form &045; some of them only allowing &uot;novelty&uot; fireworks like sparklers &045; Minnesota remained one of only a handful of states with a zero-tolerance policy. Once a law is on the books, and especially when the intention of the law is safety, it’s hard to get support for changing it.

But now, the state legislature has agreed to partially lift the state’s ban and allow novelty fireworks. Basically, things that explode or shoot into the air will still be illegal here, but some more tame amusements will be allowed. And sales will only be allowed in the days around the Independence Day and New Year’s Day holidays.

Email newsletter signup

Police and fire professionals are a sure bet to oppose any kind of fireworks, and from their perspective, there’s good reason. Used improperly, the devices can be dangerous.

But when weighed against any independent standard for what should be legal and what should not, fireworks &045; especially the novelty kind &045; don’t appear to be high on the list of threats to public safety.

When state and local governments not only allow, but often sponsor and promote, things like alcohol and gambling, both of which are more severe dangers to health and well-being than sparklers, banning fireworks seems like the product of a double standard. What criteria are used to judge that alcohol should be a matter of personal choice, but that fireworks are something you have to go to Wisconsin or South Dakota for? Loosening this law only makes sense.