The Arizona legislature, in its never-ending quest to out-do its predecessor legislatures in sheer stupidity (see here for just one example of said stupidity), legalized the sale of fireworks in Arizona this past year.
Now don't get me wrong; I *love* fireworks. When I was a kid in Florida, we used to burn sparklers and fire off roman candles every Fourth of July and New Year's. It was fun!
But the town where I grew up in Florida gets an average of 50 inches of rain per year -- over 6 inches in June, and over 6 inches in July -- while the town where I live in Arizona gets an average of just over 8 inches per year, with June typically getting almost no rain at all (average, 0.09 inches) and July getting less than one inch, typically toward the end of July when the "monsoon" season starts.
Similarly, my hometown in Florida gets over 3 inches of rain in December and again in January; Phoenix averages just under an inch for each of those months -- and that's the "rainy season."
In short, Arizona is a tinderbox; Florida, not so much. It's one thing to have the professionals setting off fireworks for anyone who wants to come watch. They generally take lots of safety precautions and have plans for how to handle any fire or explosions that might start. But it scares me to think of thousands of people across the state setting off fireworks in their dry desert back yards with no understanding of appropriate safety precautions or what to do if a fire accidentally starts... the potential for disaster is pretty high.
Why our legislature wants to see our State go up in flames is beyond me.
And then there are compliance problems. You see, the legislature made it legal for stores to *sell* fireworks all across the State. However, individual cities and towns can regulate whether it is legal to set off fireworks within their borders. Most cities and towns have banned them. The U.S. Forest Service likewise (reasonably) banned fireworks in the national forests in Arizona.
However, this has caused some confusion, as many retailers sold fireworks to residents who were not legally allowed to use them anywhere in or near the city where they purchased them. And there are criminal misdemeanor penalties (including the potential for jail time, and fairly substantial fines) for violations.
Maybe this won't be too much of a problem for purchasers. Apparently the ban on using fireworks in Tempe wasn't enforced very strictly; we heard lots of them throughout our neighborhood for many hours on New Year's Eve.
Maybe my fears about fires are similarly unfounded. No one in our neighborhood seems to have set his house on fire. Then again, in my neighborhood (an older neighborhood), most homes have green lawns and water-loving trees, and most homeowners actually maintain their water-logged landscapes, so there are not a lot of dried out weeds, lawns, and shrubs; and many of the homes are constructed of cinderblocks or bricks, rather than wood framing. By contrast, other neighborhoods feature somewhat drier desert landscaping or, worse, improperly maintained and dried-out traditional landscaping, with lots of fuel for fires. Still other neighborhoods are situated next to the national forests, with their dry underbrush and lots of fuel for fires.
So, bottom line, it's not a complete tinderbox in my neighborhood, unlike much of the State. I don't feel personally threatened.
But still. It makes no sense to sell fireworks to amateurs when we live in one of the driest and most fire-prone states in the nation. We've lived for years with a fireworks ban for individuals. Why the change? Who thought this was a good idea?
Shouldn't we have a "common sense" requirement for people who want to run for public office?