Every year we hear about animals being abused by people letting off fireworks. Every year we have the same tired old discussion about whether or not to ban fireworks. Every year people in the police force, the fire service, St John Ambulance and the R.S.P.C.A. call for the banning of fireworks and the restriction of them existing here at all to public displays. The fireworks are ready and the person lighting is about to light the wick.
“Erm…. s’cuse me sir but you can’t do that anymore. You’ll have to let me take those…” says a poor faceless person just doing their money earning gig.
“And who are you?” barks the grumpy male of the house in front of his wife, kids and family as they prepare to let a few off to celebrate their eldest kids birthday, the dog safely locked inside away from the fireworks and a bucket of water on hand.
“Council enforcement, Sir. We had a complaint”, says the uniformed person.
“Sorry son. Apparently I can’t let these off any more.”
Do not get me wrong, whatever you might think of my comments. Anyone who takes a pet to a public display, or does not take reasonable steps to protect/shield them from the explosion, the noise and the crowd reactions needs to be called out and made to account for their actions. Perhaps a stint with the R.S.P.C.A. on Guy Fawkes Night would suffice. Anyone dumb enough to light a firework in a public place where it could realistically cause damage needs to do time with St John, the police and fire service, just to see the problem from their perspective.
I would also not necessarily say “no”, if one were to propose that there be a law change to say any person caught committing an offence involving fireworks, should be billed the time spent by emergency services dealing with the incident and its aftermath. I wonder how many would continue committing their offence if that were to happen.
This is not about me deciding that fireworks are all good, and just a bit of harmless fun. They are not. They have become more powerful in both their explosivity and the range of them available has increased. They deserve their R-18 rating and another way of ensuring that only those over age 18 get hold of them is – I assume this is already happening, and if not it certainly should be – a regime of no photo ID on demand, no service, no exceptions. If a person commits a fireworks offence whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the penalties for the offence should be significantly tighter based simply on the undersatnding that people know alcohol and fireworks are a dangerous mix.
But my sympathy stops there. Whilst fireworks are explosives of a sort, and have certainly caused plenty of damage, the vast majority of New Zealanders are probably quite reasonable law abiding people who are just out for a bit of cheap entertainment in the relative privacy of home. There will always be a 3% of New Zealanders who simply cannot and/or will not respect the rates of the vast majority. It is they who must be punished and not the person holding a simple display in their backyard – though an ordinance requiring them not to be launched after 0000 hours except on New Years Day in urban areas will be well received.
I want future generations to grow up and learn how to use them safely. It can be done, but will the do-gooders support it? I fear not.