Joey Rivenbark

Being one of my favorite holidays, the fireworks on July Fourth mean a lot to me. This year, as I sat watching, I was disappointed that I didn’t have anything to launch. I had driven past at least a dozen TNT Fireworks tents that day, but those have quite a limited selection, given that any firework that leaves the ground is illegal in North Carolina. I would have loved to be a more active participant in the celebration of our nation’s freedom, but the silly laws of our state prevented me.

Many residents of our state get around this problem by driving to South Carolina and back. But as a college student with quite a limited bank, driving down south is kind of a big deal. Even if I had the time and money, it would still be an unneeded pain; a pain that highlights how incredibly trivial, silly and ineffective the laws regarding fireworks are in North Carolina.

If North Carolina’s fireworks ban is to prevent fire hazards, then lawmakers have a lot of other work to do, seeing as North Carolinians already possess the freedom to do a number of activities that have greater potential to start a fire. It only takes one trip through this state to see piles of dead trees left to burn in bonfires. Open burning of trimmings has quite the potential for danger, yet in North Carolina, it has nothing close to the severity of restrictions.

If, on the other hand, the ban is for public safety, then quite a few questions are raised about other laws regarding public safety in North Carolina. For instance, in our state, an 18-year-old can purchase a shotgun without needing a permit. Counterintuitively, acquiring a permit to set off fireworks requires attending training, being at least 21, submitting a notarized affidavit, paying a fee of $100, and meeting several other requirements. Regardless of party, anyone with common sense should question why it is harder to get fireworks than a shotgun in North Carolina.

Additionally, this law is hardly enforced on consumers, mainly because of the sheer difficulty of doing so. Without searching a driver’s vehicle — which would clearly be an overstep of the Fourth Amendment — and the fact that tracking down those who ignited the fireworks is costly both in time and resources, this law, for the most part, goes ignored when it comes to those doing the launching.

Perhaps this all sounds petty, but the fact is that a small issue like this only mainly affects the public on a few select holidays during the year. While that is true, so is the fact that the Fourth of July happens to be a fundamental part of our country. So yes, this ban is small and silly, and it is exactly for that reason that it shouldn’t be able to limit such a large part of American culture.

Fireworks on the Fourth of July are a symbol of gratitude and a celebration of freedom. North Carolinians must be able to celebrate the day that honors the freedom for which the colonials before us fought without having to jump through hoops, especially when the reasons for those hoops are unclear and inconsistent.