Boom Shack a Lak – Legalizing All Fireworks in GA

Rep. Scot Turner has pre-filed legislation entitled the “American Heritage Celebration Act” to legalize the sale, use, and manufacture of all fireworks allowed by U.S. law. The crux of his bill states:

“It shall be lawful to use, possess, manufacture, sell, transport, and store consumer fireworks, as such term is defined in Section 555.11 of Chapter 2 of Title 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as such regulations existed on July 1, 2015.”

Sen. Jeff Mullis filed legislation last year calling for a constitutional amendment for legalizing fireworks with the revenues being allocated to firefighter training and trauma care. Rep. Turner’s bill would not be a constitutional amendment, as all tax proceeds would go into the general fund and not allocated to special funds.

Rep. Turner went on WGAU’s Georgia’s Morning News yesterday with Tim Bryant and Katie Andrew to discuss his views on the legislation:

During the radio interview, Rep. Turner was asked about the safety of fireworks being the chief concern for the bill. He took a stance on the use of personal responsibility in place of government regulation in allowing Georgia citizens to make the decision for themselves whether they wish to use fireworks or not.

He also stated in the interview that was impossible to gauge how much revenue is being lost to neighboring states, such as Alabama and South Carolina, as there was no tracking of the amount of illegal firework usage in Georgia.

After listening to the interview, I decided to do some research into fireworks, specifically the revenue and safety issues.  The following are just a few highlights from the American Pyrotechnics Association that show an increase in consumption and a decrease in fires and injuries:

  • The revenue from consumer fireworks increased from $284 million in 1998 to $662 million in 2013. There was an annual increase in revenues every year, with the exception from 2011 to 2012 when sales dropped by about $4 million.
  • While consumption has increased, the injury rate for fireworks has dropped by almost 57% from 2012 to 2000.
  • The injury rate for children between the ages of 5-18 was less than fishing, swing sets, baseball, softball, bicycles, and other children activities during the period of June 22-July 22, 2012.
  • The fire rate has also decreased dramatically since 2000, dropping from 25.4 fires per 100,000 pounds of fireworks to 7.6 in 2011.

29 comments

    • Lawton Sack says:

      The site had everything culled together, which is why I used it, but it is independent data.

      The fire rate came from data from Nat. Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) Version 4.1 (1980-1998) & Version 5.0 (1999-2011) and NFPA survey

      The data on children’s injuries came from:

      1. Pediatrics, “Epidemiology of Pediatric Holiday-Related Injuries Presenting to US Emergency Departments” April 5, 2010
      2. 2012 NEISS Estimates; CPSC National Injury Information Clearinghouse

      The data is referenced in other articles, as well. For example: http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/holidays/fireworks

      Some more data from NFPA: http://www.nfpa.org/~/media/Files/Research/Fact%20sheets/Fireworksfactsheet.pdf

      And some data from the U.S. Government – U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission: http://www.cpsc.gov//PageFiles/110031/2010fwreport.pdf

      • taylor says:

        I have no real problem with eliminating the ban. I grew up throwing bottle rockets at other kids. Bottle rocket wars!

        That said, the injury rate info seems bogus. It’s not an injury rate. It’s percentage of injuries attributable to various causes. I’m not surprised there are more swimming injuries than fireworks injuries in June/July. A lot more kids in pools.

        • bgsmallz says:

          Throwing bottle rockets? Puh-leeeze. PVC ‘guns’ were the weapon of choice in our battles. We would throw the black cats that we would push into a crabapple or a hotel shampoo bottle. Tons o’ fun.

          The revenue collected would have to be offset by the revenue lost making cannonball runs to South Carolina and Alabama.

  1. Lwood says:

    Fewer fires and injuries. Are insurance companies OK with damages caused by fireworks that do occur? Like if you set the neighbor’s house afire will your homeowners cover it?

    • Lawton Sack says:

      From my reading in preparing this posting, it appears that homeowner’s insurance does cover it (either through medical coverage rider or liability if there is serious damage) IF fireworks are legal were it happens.

      In 2011, there were 370,000 home fires in the United States. There were 17,800 fires caused by fireworks (5%).

      • Lwood says:

        Are homeowner rates in Georgia a bit lower due to the fact that no one should be using fireworks? If fireworks are illegal now, would an incident that occurs now or before passage leave the “shooter” exposed? Will insurance companies raise rates due to their increased exposure to risk? If there was a reasonable expectation that a homeowner could have fireworks would companies make riders more expensive? I guess that’s what actuaries are for, assessing how much exposure the risk pool can stand.

  2. Lwood says:

    I’m from Alabama and you would be reminded of the various holidays when the house trailer firework stands appeared in the cotton fields near the river. Would this bill prohibit individual counties or cities enacting firework bans? I think that the location of these pyrotechnic retail establishments were to draw business out of Montgomery county.

    • Lawton Sack says:

      It appears that the county or city may enact firework bans:

      The governing authority of a county or municipal corporation may further regulate or prohibit the sale of products or services which are otherwise lawful under Chapter 10 of Title 25.

  3. Lwood says:

    Someone nameless was dissed by a small business and retaliated with bottle rockets launched from wrapping paper tubes. Or so I heard tell.

  4. xdog says:

    “. . . legislation last year calling for a constitutional amendment for legalizing fireworks with the revenues being allocated to firefighter training and trauma care.”

    Capitalism in a nut.

    Seriously, why doesn’t everyone drive up to South Carolina with the rest of us?

    • Lawton Sack says:

      I am a stone’s throw from Allendale, SC. I actually live about an hour closer to the capitol of South Carolina than I do Atlanta. It is the use or possession part of the current law that is the issue. I really do not want to go to jail and/or pay a penalty for buying something in SC and transporting it back to GA.

    • benevolus says:

      It’s funny though because usually there is a new law restricting something and the fines for violating go to a related worthy cause. In this case, rules are being relaxed and funds would allegedly go towards cleaning up the aftermath.

  5. Will Durant says:

    While I can’t state this on everything, in this matter, whatever standard is OK by the feds should be OK by the state. The max loads are well below those we had when I was a kid and somehow we all survived with all of our digits intact. Adult purchase and supervision should of course be required.

  6. Jawgadude says:

    Great… lets add fireworks to the list of noise makers like loud stereos, horns honking, motorcycles with gutted exhaust systems, etc. Please don’t increase noise pollution in GA.

  7. blakeage80 says:

    This thread will probably show up on floor of the General Assembly as an argument against such a measure. I can just see a rep up there with a giant poster with the words “My God I miss bottle rocket wars.” That being said, I met a kid the other day that has a big scar across his eyeball because he lost a bottle rocket war. He should have had protective eye wear.

  8. Daniel N. Adams says:

    Celebrating the 4th of July, Independence Day for a “Free Country” in a State with laws against personal fireworks always seemed WRONG to me.

  9. South GA Bulldog says:

    Rep. Jay Roberts introduced HB 952 last year that would have legalized Fireworks in Ga. I talked to him and he said he has been working with groups this year to draft another bill and that he will be introducing another bill this year. So there will be another bill on this subject. He said that he and Senator Mullis have been communicating with each other on this bill. So I think we can all see which bill will probably move forward this year.

  10. Ray Jack says:

    Would HB 952 allow municipalities to opt out and make fireworks illegal within city limits? I believe that the bill introduced last year allowed for Georgia cities to continue to make fireworks illegal.

Comments are closed.