Props to Republican legislators for bill that allows full range of consumer fireworks

I’m thrilled to see that consumer fireworks might be coming back to Minnesota. In yesterday’s Strib,  Fireworks bill survives committee test:

The bill, sponsored by Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, would allow the sale and use of the full range of consumer fireworks, including aerial rockets and firecrackers. Currently, the state only allows the sale and use of ground-based items such as small fountains, sparklers and snakes.

Sen. Michael Jungbauer, R-East Bethel, is the author in the Senate.

Griff Wigley and Larry WigleyOne of my cranky dad’s passions was his love of fireworks, one of the few things that that he loved to do with me and my brother. He’d buy $100 or more of fireworks every year, and this was back in the late 50s when that would buy an arsenal.

Black CatsHe showed us how to blow up sandcastles and cardboard houses; how to launch tennis balls high in the air by putting them on top of lead pipes and lighting a cherry bomb underneath; how orange juice cans were great to use with regular black cats; how to launch cherry bombs into the air with a slingshot. He loved that we loved it and I cherish those memories.

Cherry BombsWhen Minneapolis Tribune columnist Cedric Adams successfully led a campaign to ban fireworks in the state, he was not deterred. He and many fellow Munsingwear employees would place an annual fireworks order with the interstate truck drivers. They’d purchase them down south and bring them back for distribution at the loading docks. ‘Civil disobedience’ he called it.

I know the dangers of fireworks firsthand. When I was 13, some buddies and I climbed to the top of an empty barn silo to drop Black Cats mid-air for the big echo effect. I had about 20 of them stuffed in my front shirt pocket and when the fuse died out on one that I was ready to throw, I put it back in my shirt pocket so that I could harvest its powder later.  It exploded in my pocket which set off a couple more went off.  I was sure my left nipple was blown off but fortunately, the burns were just below it. I borrowed a shirt from a friend and hid the injury from my parents for about a week.  A real memory-maker.

Follow Krisel and Jungbauer on Twitter. And see this KARE-11 clip from this morning, Fireworks bill moves forward at Minnesota Capitol:

18 comments to  (Including 5 Discussion Threads) Props to Republican legislators for bill that allows full range of consumer fireworks

  • 1
    john george says:

    I grew up in SE Iowa, about 25 miles from the Missouri line. Fireworks were illegal in Iowa at that time, but we always made a forray across the line to pick up some things. I remember launching rubber balls out of our steel post driver. The only problem was walking a quarter mile back into the pasture to retrieve the things. If we really wanted to launch something, we would use an M-80. Those things were about as powerful as a 1/4 stick of dynamite. I remember one year getting a huge aerial bomb. It had about a 6″ diameter carboard tube mounted to a 12″ square board about 3″ thick. We took it back into the pasture and set it off as a grand finale to the rest of the “show.” We pulled a hayrack back and sat on bales of hay to watch the show. We set the thing off about 20′ from the hay wagon. When it went off, it split that 3″ board in half and deafened all our ears. There was a second explosion above our heads a couple seconds later. When we looked up, the whole sky was full of sparks seemingly from horizon to horizon. Our ears were still ringing the next morning. When I look back on some of the things we did with fireworks when I was growing up, it is a wonder we even survived.

  • 2

    I think the fireworks allowed under the Ventura administration are more than adequate. Yes, people say, if only people use these new fireworks properly and safely, then all will be well. Inevitably, though, accidents will happen; fingers will be blown off, and houses will be set ablaze. People like to say this could happen with lots of things, if used improperly. But like cars or knives or any other potentially dangerous thing, fireworks serve no real valuable purpose. They serve a recreational value — but, fortunately, that recreation is offered to you in Northfield and almost every other city in Minnesota, at least once a year, safely and free of charge.

    I see no value to this change. At the very least, I’d like to see that DFL amendment go through, to allow municipalities to restrict sale within their boundaries. (Apparently, firework-friendly Wisconsin allows cities to do this.)

    • 2.1
      Griff Wigley says:

      Sean, there’s a huge difference in the recreational experience of personally participating/engaging with fireworks vs. observing fireworks. There’s a thrill to it for many people. Managing the dangerous aspects is key.

    • 2.2

      The idea of ascribing “value” to something is a very interesting philosophical thought. What gives something value?

      My car was quite valuable yesterday as it allowed my family the opportunity to drive 50 miles to see my parents and siblings for lunch. My kids made special memories yesterday thanks to our family using a car.

      Also, they enjoyed a meal prepared using a knife. The knife had great value as a tool for food preparation. The pocket knifes I had as a kid growing up playing in the woods were extremely valuable for widdling sticks, cutting twine used in the building of forts, and many other purposes.

      I think there is value in fireworks in so far as they bring enjoyment to the people using them. As a parent I would find value in spending time with my kids teaching them safety around dangerous objects. I would find value in fireworks because I would see excitement and joy on my children’s face as they watched them. I would find value in fireworks because I know all kind of people in my neighborhood would gather in the cul-de-sac to participate as a small community of friends.

  • 3
    Griff Wigley says:

    Very funny column by James Lileks in yesterday’s Strib: Make fireworks legal? What a bang-up idea!

    Education is the key, of course. That’s what we’ll be told. Official Wisconsin websites on fireworks safety are full of good advice, in case anyone’s thinking, “Are they safe to chew?” or “I lit it. Now what?” and pauses in the revelry to consult the Internet.

  • 4
    Jane Moline says:

    I think this is a Republican jobs plan. More employment for health care workers, firemen, prosthetic device makers, physical therapists--way to go Republicans. Whoo! Whoo!

    And the thrill of blowing things up yourself cannot be matched by watching others do it!

  • 5

    I am very pleased to see this law moving forward. Ever since I was a kid, our family would travel to WI and pick up some fireworks. Yes, I get there will be more of a chance of accidents. But to be honest, how much more? Every 4th of July at our lake, every single cabin has fireworks going off.

    Also, think about how much more tax income the state can keep by making these fireworks legal.

    • 5.1
      David Beimers says:

      I’m guessing we’ll see maybe 100 more injuries / year state-wide. Not a huge number and most injuries are minor burns. A lot of the firework-related injuries are among kids 14 and under, caused by firecracker burns, bottle rockets, and even sparklers. Very few are caused by the commercial-grade fireworks.

      Sparklers are kinda crazy, though. We take really young children, give them a sharp wire coated in flammable material, light the wire for them, then encourage them to run around waving the wire. Something like 20% of firework injuries are from sparklers.

      • 5.1.1

        David, that’s been exactly our experience. Our neighbor was burned after touching the end of a sparkler. When the bigger fireworks come out everyone runs way backward to watch.

  • 6
    Jim Haas says:

    Like Griff’s dad, my father gleefully blew things up on July 4. We’d go out behind my grandma’s rural home and use M-80’s and cherry bombs to launch coffee cans. My mother didn’t approve, which was part of the fun!

  • 7
    Griff Wigley says:

    If this bill passes, we’re going to have a special LoGro 4th of July “Let’s Blow Some Shit Up” fireworks party.

    Hopefully, we’ll get a few firefighters and EMS folks to attend.

    • 7.1

      Griff: Maybe LoGro could sponsor the fireworks this year for Northfield? You got an extra $7,000 laying around right?

    • 7.2
      john george says:

      Griff- I think you have to admit that the fireworks going on around the City Council and the NF Hospital board right now are pretty good, new legislation or no. And, it is not even the 4th of July!

    • 7.3
      Griff Wigley says:

      Hayes, I don’t have that kind of money laying around for community vultures leaders like you. However, I think it would be great if LoGro and the Nfld Historical Society teamed up for a “celebrate the history of fireworks” party, held at 8 or 9 pm, just prior to the community wide fireworks display. I’m sure there’s info in your archives about early fireworks displays in town. It could be fundraiser, ie, we buy the arsenal of stuff but sell tickets for people to light them.

      We could also have the Northfield Hospital partner with us on it, using slogans like “Our burn unit rocks!” or “We’re experts at reattaching fingers!”

      • 7.3.1

        Griff, Oh yeah I am rolling in the cash, but still not as much as you!!! :)

        You know, that is great idea! I will look in our archives and see if there is a history of the 4th of July festivals in Northfield, that would be a neat display.

  • 8
    Griff Wigley says:

    Just posted to the Strib: Minn. Senate passes bill allowing sale of larger fireworks, House bill awaits floor vote

    Minnesotans are one step closer to legally buying and shooting off a wider range of fireworks this summer.

    The Minnesota Senate approved a bill 41-22 Tuesday to make aerial fireworks legal in the state. Current law limits consumers to sparklers and other toys low in explosives. The House version of the bill is awaiting a floor vote.

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