To the Editor,
Hasn't the time come for West Virginia to step into the 21st century and follow the lead of many other states and make the full line of consumer fireworks legal for sale and use in the state?
Right now, 46 states permit the sale and use of some level of consumer fireworks, with Kentucky, Maine and Michigan having all gone to full-line consumer fireworks within the past two years. Those states have recognized two factors related to consumer fireworks: first and foremost, the products are safer today than they have ever been, and, second, the sale of consumer fireworks can raise some badly needed revenue for the government.
Everyone loves fireworks. People love to watch major league sports, but they also love to play sandlot sports. The same hold true with fireworks. People love to watch professional displays, but they also love to shoot their own backyard fireworks, too.
Fireworks and the Fourth of July are synonymous. You simply cannot have a complete Independence Day celebration in America without fireworks. Americans love to celebrate with fireworks in much the same manner as envisioned by John Adams on July 3, 1776, when the future U.S. president wrote in a now-famous letter to his wife, Abigail, that Independence Day "ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, bonfires and illuminations (fireworks) from one end of this continent to the other, from this day forward forevermore."
West Virginia legislators have the power to change the fireworks laws and take West Virginians out of the shadow of uncertainty and illegality and bring West Virginia to parity with so many other states that permit the sale and use of the full-line of consumer fireworks.
Since 1994 when the American Fireworks Standards Laboratory first began testing consumer fireworks at the factory level in China for compliance with U.S. manufacturing and performance standards, imports have doubled from 117 million pounds in 1994 to 234.1 million pounds in 2011, and the number of fireworks-related injuries as reported by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has dropped more than 23 percent, from 12,500 to 9,600.
Write or e-mail your legislator and ask for legalization of the full line of consumer fireworks in West Virginia. Take West Virginia out of the consumer fireworks dark ages and into the modern era.
Please enjoy the Independence Day holiday with your family, and celebrate safely.
William A. Weimer
Vice president, Phantom Fireworks