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Letter: Westrom’s fireworks proposal is ill-advised

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State Senator Torrey Westrom recently wrote to the Morris Sun Tribune that he will be introducing a bill that will allow all Minnesota consumers over the age of 18 to sell, buy, and use aerial and audible (explosive) fireworks for the Fourth of July and other events. I can’t think of a more ill-advised proposal.

In 2011, fireworks were responsible for 17,800 reported fires and 9,600 injuries that required treatment in U.S. hospital emergency rooms. I wonder if Westrom’s proposed bill would double, triple or quadruple the number of injuries and fires in Minnesota.

Of the 9,600 injuries, 9 percent were 5- 9 years old and 7 percent were 0-4 years old. It can’t be much fun to be working in an emergency room when they bring in a 2 or 3 year old that has been burned, maimed or possibly permanently disfigured by fireworks.

Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH of George Washington University School of Public Health, recently wrote that “The National Fire Protection Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics teamed up to form the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks. They argue that fireworks displays should be organized and managed by trained professionals, not neighborhood fire bugs. Bans on fireworks from consumers would reduce dismemberment, vision loss, burns, scarring and house fires caused by the pyrotechnics. For veterans and others suffering from PTSD, a ban on consumer fireworks would provide some relief.”

Before introducing his bill, I hope that Westrom might consider the following scenarios: Joe Dunderhead fires off a tipping rocket that glances off his beer keg and then hits the neighbor’s four-year-old in the face. Should he be facing a prison sentence, or should he just be required to explain to the little girl that her injury is the price of freedom?

Across the street, Joe’s friend, Waldo “Bubba” Blitzkrieg, peers down a rocket tube while trying to figure out if it is a dud and suddenly gets a close up view of a delayed detonation. The rocket deflected by Bubba’s forehead is sent on an errant flight path through his “Repeal Obamacare” sign and into the neighbor’s garage. The garage burns and Bubba is left in a permanent vegetative state.

While I don’t care much as to who has to pay for the garage, I wonder who will have to pay for Bubba’s care for the rest of his life as he is without any health insurance. Will Obamacare pay for it?

Westrom seems to think there is an inextricable link between fireworks and freedom. There isn’t. The inextricable link is between fireworks and physical and emotional pain and suffering.

And I must say that I found Westrom’s obligatory harangue against “a burdensome and controlling government” very tiresome.

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