Monday, June 30, 2008
I put the following in the column I write for the newspapers I edit in the hopes of soliciting a response from the writer in defense of my neighbors who believe they have a God-given right to break the state law on fireworks.
Alas, to date no response at all – sigh. I really wanted to hear his self-righteous arguments.
When I was in high school there always seemed to be some underground source for fireworks. I believe at that time – over 30 years ago – New Hampshire was not the safe haven for the stuff.
For several years back in the 1970s, there was a fairly ramshackle fruit and vegetable place in Chicopee that was a source If you knew the right person to ask. If memory serves, the owner of the stand was busted at one point for selling the contraband.
Later, one would also hear stories of Massachusetts state troopers waiting over the border in Northfield to catch people with their trunk loaded with fireworks purchased in New Hampshire. Undoubtedly they'd have that cheap NH booze and cigarettes as well.
I've certainly shot off fireworks myself, but in places where it was legal and with the garden hose nearby.
Hey, it's almost July Fourth and that means every idiot in my neighborhood will be shooting off fireworks. Yay! And they'll probably be drinking! Yay! And the most they'll know about what they're doing is that you light a match and stick the flame on the stringy thing and eventually let go.
I got this letter from the vice president of Phantom Fireworks, William A. Weimer, and I'll quote it in part: "The laws in Massachusetts that govern the use of consumer fireworks are out of date and out of touch with the demands and rights of the Massachusetts citizens. The time has come for Massachusetts to be brought into the mainstream of American life and for the state legislature to allow its citizens to enjoy the celebration of freedom with consumer fireworks.
"The spirit of the Massachusetts signers of the Declaration of Independence John Adams, John Hancock, Elbridge Gerry, Samuel Adams and Robert Treat Paine should rise once again and break the chains of anti-fireworks servitude in the Bay State.
"The imperative for the legislature to 'protect' its citizens from the dangers of consumer fireworks is long gone. The consumer fireworks today are the safest ever, and the injuries associated with the use of consumer fireworks is at an all-time low. There simply is no longer any need for the antiquated laws in this state that prevent citizens from enjoying the family celebrations associated with a home fireworks display.
"Massachusetts is now one of only five states that totally outlaws the use of all consumer fireworks.
"Former President John Adams predicted in 1776 in a 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.' Fireworks provide the citizens of this state and this nation a means to celebrate their freedoms.
"Write to your state legislator and let them know that you want the right to celebrate your freedom with fireworks in the spirit of John Adams."
Bill may I call you Bill? I'll be happy to talk to a number of state reps on this subject if you would like to spend the evening of the Fourth in my neighborhood, listening to drunk fathers trying to teach their kids how to hold a sparkler, putting up with the barking and whining of dogs petrified by the fireworks and hoping that the bottle rockets whizzing overhead don't cause a house fire which has happened in Springfield in the past few years.
John Adams, indeed. I'm sure that what happens in my neighborhood is what he intended.
© 2008 by Gordon Michael Dobbs