Con: Don't ban an American tradition, which can be safely carried out

June 27, 2010 at 1:27 a.m.

The contractors of a small fireworks stand on the outskirts of Victoria plan on handing out "Friends of Fireworks" membership forms to their customers.

The "Friends of Fireworks" group, which is Texas-based and has about 20,000 to 30,000 members, fights legislation aiming to ban the sale of fireworks.

One of the group's founders, Joe Daughtry called fireworks "an American right" and said the group fought 23 bills that would have eliminated that right last year.

Victoria County Fire Marshal Ron Pray agrees with him, even after admitting fireworks make his job more hectic.

"I know people want to have fun, and people want to go out to celebrate the birth of our nation ... Fireworks are just part of America," Pray said.

Pray said he planned on going this year to Saxet Lake, where the public will be allowed to shoot off their fireworks under the supervision of firefighters.

Even an emergency room doctor, whose job is also made more hectic around the 4th of July, said he doesn't support a ban on selling fireworks.

"You can get hurt doing anything," said Dr. John McNeill of Twin Fountains Walk-In Clinic. "Personal responsibility should apply."

Anita Drozd, 83, of Yoakum, said that when handled safely, fireworks are actually a positive thing for youth.

"They've taken away so much from these young people," she said. "I'd hate for them to ban it. The kids could always get into something else."

Besides, fireworks are a big business in Texas.

Lisa Barr of the University of Houston-Victoria Small Business Development Center, said Texas sold $52 million worth of fireworks in 2008.

Beyond the regular 8.25 percent state sales tax, Texas also imposes a 2 percent tax on fireworks. That 2 percent goes to a state fund, which rural fire departments can tap into, said Barr.

Pray said the bottom line is that when used properly and with supervision, fireworks are safe and fun.

"We have a good time just like everybody else, but we're on duty to respond," he said.



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