As Independence Day nears, we note that many people will be buying fireworks, many kids will be using them, and, as always, many of those kids (and adults as well) will be seriously burned or will lose fingers, eyes, and sometimes even lives, because of fireworks explosions.
Families in New Jersey, among other states, can't buy fireworks — the sale of fireworks to consumers is illegal in New Jersey. But many of them will drive across the river to Pennsylvania and buy them there to bring home. But here's the interesting thing: it's not that Pennsylvania doesn't think that the use of fireworks by untrained and inadequately protected people is dangerous. Because, in fact, Pennsylvania also makes it illegal to sell fireworks to its own residents. It's just that they're happy to sell them to out-of-state consumers.
Now, as it happens, the New Jersey law makes it illegal not just to sell fireworks in the state, but to transport, possess, or use then as well. So those New Jerseyans who are popping to PA for their purchases are still breaking the law, and the police will be watching for that too. But that's not the point.
The point is that it's unethical to ban the sale of them in your state on safety grounds, but to go ahead and sell them to other states, without regard to the safety of the people across the border. And it's clear where the market is, when you look, for instance, at the locations of the major fireworks shops in PA: three near New Jersey, one near Maryland, one near Ohio and New York.
New Jersey is asking Pennsylvania to change their law. Not surprisingly, there's some resistance to the idea. For example, from an Associated Press article:
Nick Troutman, a former aide to Sen. Roger A. Madigan, who sponsored Pennsylvania's fireworks law, said sales to out-of-state residents are allowed to help protect Pennsylvania fireworks companies.What an irresponsible, bloodsucking attitude.
“If the law was changed, these companies that have invested million of dollars in their fireworks factories would be going out of business,” he said.
Troutman said Pennsylvania's not to blame for others coming there to buy fireworks.
“That's not Pennsylvania's responsibility,” he said.
Pennsylvania should change their law. If the situation is dangerous — and it is — the ban should apply to everyone.