Children playing with things that go bang

I love a good fireworks show. The bigger the better. I’ve been known to set off a few firecrackers in my day too. But I was never allowed to “play” with fireworks as a child. As I grew up, Dad supervised and taught safety in all things that go bang, including both fireworks and firearms.

Fireworks can be dangerous. Consider this statement from Stop

    Each year in the U.S. 13,000 people are treated in emergency rooms because of severe injuries from malfunction or careless use of fireworks. Seven of every 100 people injured from fireworks require hospitalization. Over 40% of those injured from fireworks are children ages 0-14. Males are injured three times as frequently as females. The most frequently injured body sites are the hands and fingers (38%) and the eyes (19%). About half the injuries are burns. Also, fireworks can be life-threatening when they cause a house fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks result in more than $41 million in direct property damage annually. Studies suggest that state laws concerning the sale and use of fireworks are related to the number of injuries incurred. For example, in one state in which the sale of fireworks was legalized, the number of injuries seen in emergency departments more than doubled. Injuries occur around holidays associated with fireworks celebrations, especially Independence Day and New Year's Eve. Two-thirds of all fireworks injuries occur July.

Some further checking revealed something pro-gun people are used to. Groups that want to ban our product of interest, repeat some true facts, but can’t resist trumping things up a bit to make their case. For the rest of the story we will only use statistics from the Center for Disease Control.

Click on 'Read More' for a firearms vs. fireworks injury comparison.

The truth about fireworks accidents:

    All fireworks are dangerous, especially to children. In 2004, 9,600 people were treated in U.S. emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries in the United States, and 8 people died from their injuries. During the month around Independence Day, children 14 years and younger sustained about 40% of injuries related to fireworks, and among all ages males represented 76% of those injured. Typically, more than two thirds of injuries from fireworks in the United States occur in the month surrounding the July 4th holiday.
    During the month around Independence Day, 40% of these injuries occurred among children ages 14 years and younger.

If fireworks were used year around, as firearms are, we might expect to see a 12 fold increase in these statistics. That would lead to 115,200 fireworks related injuries, and 96 deaths.
By comparison, in 2003, there where 56 deaths from firearm accidents from children ages 14 years and younger. In 1997 (The latest year I could find statistics) there were 2,514 children ages 14 and under who were injured by firearms, but the vast majority of this statistic is from intentional and criminal acts, not “accidents.”

So even though firearms are used throughout the year compared to very limited use of fireworks, there are almost 4 times as many injuries related to fireworks as firearms. Fireworks injuries seem to hit children at an alarmingly high rate.

The simple truth is that both firearms and fireworks can be dangerous. But both are enjoyed by large numbers of people every year, and the vast majority of those do so safely. Children should have adult supervision and proper safety equipment should be used. Most states have laws restricting use, and those laws should always be followed.

It is good that most news stations add safety tips to their coverage of fireworks displays. We all need to keep safety in mind. Why then do these same news organizations refuse to offer firearms safety tips? Why do they cover fun fireworks and not fun firearms activities? Fireworks are part of American tradition. But firearms have been part of American tradition even longer. In fact, what we celebrate every 4th of July with our fireworks is the fact that we were successful with our firearms, and thus drove out King George and his Redcoats and gave birth to the greatest nation the world has ever known.

Happy 4th of July!

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