West Virginia consumers should be able to purchase fireworks - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

West Virginia consumers should be able to purchase fireworks

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William A. Weimer is vice president of Phantom Fireworks, one of the largest fireworks retailers in the United States.

Hasn't the time come to allow West Virginia to step into the 21st century and follow the lead of many other states to make the full line of consumer fireworks legal for sale and use in the state?

Forty-six states now 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 before. Secondly, 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 holds true with fireworks. People love to watch professional displays, but they also love to shoot their own backyard fireworks, too.

Fireworks and the 4th 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 shadows 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. This is long overdue.

Since 1994, when the American Fireworks Standards Laboratory first began testing the consumer fireworks at the factory level in China for compliance with U.S. manufacturing and performance standards, while imports of fireworks have doubled from 117 million pounds in 1994 to 234.1 million pounds in 2011, 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 over the same period.

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.