Would we really miss over-the-counter fireworks? The case for banning them

The longest day of the year is almost upon us once more. I don’t mean Christmas, although that can be interminable. I refer to Bonfire Night.

Wednesday, 9th October 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th October 2019, 2:37 pm
Oooh! Aaahh! As seen here in Seaburn, fireworks are only really great when left to the professionals.
Oooh! Aaahh! As seen here in Seaburn, fireworks are only really great when left to the professionals.

November 5 lasts at least a fortnight and begins with the first firework sold over the counter. Most people don’t like it. In polls run by the Echo and its sister papers, a large majority favoured banning fireworks sales to the general public.

There is no call to ban professional displays. Why would there be? Fireworks are marvellous when left to professionals. Spectacular, safe and always detonated at a sociable hour.

As everyone knows, the call to ban fireworks to non-professionals is mainly due to the high number of injuries and fatalities they cause when left with nincompoops.

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A ban would be a shame for the vast majority of people who use them privately and responsibly and have a jolly time. However, this is more than offset by the grim statistics.

Aside of the terror they bring to animals, 4,436 people attended A&E in England in 2017 with firework related injuries. Half of them were aged 18 or under.

It’s illegal to supply fireworks to anyone below that age, but they’re getting them anyway.

One of the counter-arguments to banning fireworks is that people might illegally create their own. But how many of those teenage reprobates possess either the knowledge or inclination to set up laboratories in their sheds to make their own Catherine wheels?

And how many of them would risk buying illegally online and paying even more than they do now? They aren’t drugs.

It can cost several quid to see a proper display. But there are free ones too.

Bear in mind too that letting off a “Firewall fountain” in the back garden will set you back eight quid for 35 seconds of entertainment. The Royal Opera House doesn’t charge that.

What exactly would we be missing after a ban? Backyard fireworks that aren’t stupidly expensive tend to be a bit, well, rubbish. Rockets reaching a height of 30 feet after being launched from a milk bottle are the highlight of no one’s year.

Those who sensibly enjoy their own fireworks would miss out due to the actions of the minority. But “suffering” is rather overstating things.

Some other arguments against a ban are plain silly.

To wit: “Should we ban cars/cutlery/bleach too? You can do some damage too.” The answer to that supposedly rhetorical question is as follows (apologies to the many who don’t actually require an answer).

No. No one has called for any of those things to be banned because we need them. We really, really don’t need fireworks.

And the fact that they’ve been around for hundreds of years doesn’t make them any less lethal.

Regrettably we can’t legislate for stupidity. So a ban it should be. In the eyes of some, this makes me a killjoy and a wet blanket.

But a wet blanket is highly useful when someone’s kagool is on fire.