The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Should Fireworks Be Banned?

Posted by The Futility Monster on November 7, 2009 @ 09:53


Can't beat a good fireworks display though. Let someone else worry about the risks...

The obvious answer to this question from most people is surprisingly knee-jerk libertarian. For a nation that loves banning things though, we would be loathe to give up our yearly dose of gunpowder. “How dare the political correctness brigade try to infringe our British culture”, might be the cry from the Littlejohn pages, despite it having nothing to do with political correctness…

This is an issue, though, that I’m torn upon. I have some sympathy with the idea that these things are actually extremely dangerous and probably shouldn’t be put in the hands of the general public.

It’s one of these things though that is purely based on anecdotal experience. And, as everyone knows, anecdotal evidence makes for bad policy. But bear with me…

The other night round here there was a “run the gauntlet” atmosphere surrounding the local supermarket. The area is particularly scummy, and the local youths were having their fun setting fireworks off and aiming them at cars. The staff in the supermarket told me they’d been terrified all night – as several fireworks had managed to get into the shop – phoning the police on several occasions, only to be told they were too busy with other calls.

That kind of behaviour is somewhat expected round here. In truth, while it’s not great, it’s no worse than the behaviour of drunken adults pouring out of the local pubs at closing time. That’s what everyone’s used to. Maybe we shouldn’t be, but this tends to be what it’s like in the forgotten corners of Britain.

Anyway – that’s not sufficient for me. What makes me ask the question though is that, on many occasions, we have had many near misses on a number of different occasions. From Roman candles tipping over and firing horizontally, to badly designed imported (read “dodgy”) fireworks which were inherently unstable – with the consequence that after a few shots, they had wobbled enough to also be on their side, with the resulting rockets firing past people standing at a door and into the house, where they proceeded to explode…

Then the rockets, firing off at all different directions, hitting other people’s houses, exploding on roofs. And the ones that don’t seem to have the power to lift off, and end up exploding at ground level. Leading to much screaming and ducking for cover…

And on Thursday night, the absolute clincher. A rocket that essentially turned into an artillery shell.

The blue touch paper was lit, the rocket started screeching… it just about managed to go into the air, and then started coming down in a perfect arc. A one in a million shot. And as it reached the bottom of its parabola, it landed perfectly into the garden of someone living in the street behind us.

And exploded.

We were all, as you do, pissing ourselves with laughter. And hoping that there wasn’t anyone actually out there. We ran indoors and turned all the lights out.

That was the end of the festivities. But someone could have been out amongst that. Imagine a firework coming in at you as if it were a Hamas rocket and then exploding in front of you.

These things are bloody dangerous. And judging by the sheer amount of things that we’ve witnessed going wrong over the years, I’m convinced most other people must have had similar issues happening to them.

I wonder what the evidence suggests on the number of firework related injuries each year. It must, if you pardon the pun, rocket on 5th November.

Maybe they should just be confined to official displays. But they’re so embedded in culture that people would just get hold of them anyway.

Politics ain’t easy…

(Meanwhile, you could buy a computer from my computer sales business, ElpaTech. Or locals can try the computer repair Andover service. Sorry, shameless plug alert.)

2 Responses to “Should Fireworks Be Banned?”

  1. Nonconformistradical said

    I think there is a good case for prohibiting the sale of fireworks to the general public and only allowing their sale to organisations licensed to conduct public firework displays.

    Not only have fireworks become very much more powerful and hence more dangerous over the years but the disturbances they cause are no longer confined to 5 November and a few days either side.

  2. […] too to all you crazy people who arrive on my blog looking for pictures of fireworks. Hint: you will find it here. By the way, it’s the worst thing I’ve ever written, and yet it’s the most read […]

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