When a TV reporter asked some city dwellers why they fired guns into the air on New Years they said, “You can’t get firecrackers. But everybody has a gun.” I remember that from years ago when I lived in a state that only allowed “safe and sane” fireworks. Last night, Vancouver mostly had the booms of consumer fireworks but interspersed was the rhythmic sound of gun fire. Fireworks, especially firecrackers, go off in a random staccato fashion. It’s easy to differentiate that from gun fire, especially when you count the bangs like I did last night. Six evenly spaced bangs and it’s a revolver, seven to seventeen bangs and it’s probably a semiautomatic pistol, and more than twenty it’s probably something like an AR-15 or AK-47.
Well-meaning people try to ban fireworks because of safety issues and the trauma loud noises inflict on people and pets. Yet, the unintended consequences will be that the fireworks ban will make the problem worse. The bullets that get fired into the air come down at nearly the same velocity at which they left the gun and they can travel three miles. It becomes Russian Roulette for the city. Fireworks are loud but the fallout is trivial by comparison.
And the fireworks ban, like many other prohibitions, will produce a black market because they can so easily be transported from nearby counties or states. Even worse, “safe and sane” fireworks can be modified into skyrockets or the powder inside repurposed into M-80 style devices. Worse yet is the availability of exploding targets at about every store that sells guns, and on the internet. Exploding targets are based on industrial grade high explosives and are now widely available. A ban that eliminates the fireworks that the CPSC has deemed safe provides the incentive to look elsewhere.
Holidays that are celebrated with gluttony, inebriation and explosives will always be a problem but we can lessen the trauma and destruction by having robust fireworks that make going over to the dark side less appealing.
Chris Spurrell, a friend of Kent Bacon