Monday, July 1, 2013

Legalize The Sale, Use & Possession Of Fireworks In New York State, Says Thomas Robert Stevens, Personal Freedom Party Candidate For NYC Public Advocate

Thomas Robert Stevens, the Personal Freedom Party candidate for New York City Public Advocate, has called for the immediate legalization of the sale, possession and use of fireworks in New York State. In a statement issued July 1, 2013, Dr. Stevens said the following:

"The joy of setting off fireworks in New York State has been denied to its citizens for far too long. Most New Yorkers love seeing fireworks displays and are amazed by them. Seeing the diversity of shapes and colors create some of our most cherished memories. Setting off fireworks from your own personal property should not be illegal. I call on the New York State legislature to take immediate action to legalize the sale, possession and use of fireworks in New York State.

The use of fireworks by citizens of New York State has been banned since 1940 and the definition of "dangerous fireworks" was expanded in 1997 to include Roman Candles and Sparklers. New York State outlaws the personal use of fireworks but it does issue permits for public displays of fireworks, which come with a slew of safety regulations. However, if you are just an average citizen who wants to set off fireworks in your backyard or on your farm, you will face fines and possible imprisonment. The NYPD also offers a $1,000.00 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of people possessing or distributing fireworks so watch out for that neighbor you don't get along with.

Possession of illegal fireworks is a violation, maximum fine $250.00; possession of fireworks valued at fifty dollars or more upgrades the charge to a Class B Misdemeanor, maximum fine $500.00; the fine for setting off fireworks without a permit is $750.00; and if you are caught using, transporting or selling illegal fireworks, you can be arrested, charged with a felony, have your car taken away and your business closed.

Anyone concerned about the possibility of injury associated with the use of fireworks should not purchase, possess or use them. However, when fireworks are stored and set off with the proper caution, the risk of injury can be greatly reduced or eliminated. Many businesses are set up in Pennsylvania just west of the Delaware River to sell fireworks to residents of Delaware, New Jersey and New York. There is no reason why New York businesses shouldn't share in these profits. There is room to expand this industry to include designer fireworks dedicated to the celebration of other holidays. The use of said fireworks will brighten up every occasion.

So far in this millennium, a dozen states have liberalized fireworks laws and with increased legalization, the number of injuries per pounds exploded have dwindled significantly. When fireworks are legal, people choose to shoot them off safely on their own property, rather than in a rush keeping an eye out for the police, and they follow safety precautions, follow directions properly, and have garden hoses available to put out any little fire that might occur. Fireworks are commonly used in New York State despite being illegal and the resources of law enforcement and the legal system should not be used to suppress this popular activity.

One of the problems with keeping fireworks illegal in New York State is that it keeps the issue below the radar so safety issues cannot be openly discussed. Revelers regularly smuggle in fireworks from other states, as anyone who has been outdoors just about anywhere on Independence Day can attest. The law hasn't prevented people from bringing fireworks into New York and setting them off. Do we really want to turn all these people into felons, locking them in jail for a year or more?

Those who argue that injuries are possible do not make a persuasive argument for a complete ban. We do not place an outright ban on the use of vehicles, cigarettes or alcohol, all of which can be linked to accidents and injuries. Instead, we regulate them. The same can be applied to fireworks. We can reasonably ban their sale to anyone under the age of 18. There is no justification for keeping this pleasurable activity illegal.

Consumer fireworks have never been illegal in Tennessee. This time of year, highways in Tennessee are lined with booths and tents selling fireworks by the truckload yet fireworks-related injuries are no more common in Tennessee than they are in New York. The reason for this is that prohibiting fireworks only tends to discourage their use by responsible, law-abiding citizens. The beautiful aerial effects of rockets, mortars and multi-tube repeaters can be enjoyed safety when they are set off by repeat purchasers who know how to use them as opposed to individuals who buy them illegally often for one-time use.

We are a country of hearty Americans who don't need or want a government that passes laws restricting behaviors with risk, to enforce morality or for what bureaucrats generally believe to be in our own best interests. It's time to end all restrictions on the sale, possession and use of fireworks.

Let the rockets red glare burst in the air!"

Thomas Robert Stevens obtained the nomination of the Personal Freedom Party to run for New York City Public Advocate at a convention held on May 11, 2013. At that convention, Sam Sloan was nominated as the Personal Freedom Party's nominee for Mayor and Kristin Davis was nominated as the Personal Freedom Party's nominee for Comptroller.

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