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Editorial: Pima County burned out on fireworks


Unsurprisingly, Pima County is again at odds with the Arizona Legislature. Sometimes it's about immigration and concealed weapons. However, this Independence Day, it's about sparklers.



The Pima County Board of Supervisors passed an emergency ban on the use of fireworks last week. Purchasing fireworks is still legal. It's using them that will earn you jail time. Violating the ban is a Class 3 misdemeanor.

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The supervisors also agreed to withhold permits from annual shows held in unincorporated areas, and revoked permits previously granted for private displays.



Last year, the Legislature elected to legalize home fireworks for the first time in more than 50 years. This year would have been the first year residents could set off fireworks in the county.



What was the impetus for such a drastic shift? Maybe the legislators wanted to pretend they were shooting stars to wish on.



If you ask Steve Lurvey, a representative from Phantom Fireworks, it was for why the Legislature does everything else: money.



""I think the governor saw that it could be a revenue source because we will be paying a lot of sales tax and a lot of fees and permits for the cities … money drives everything,"" Lurvey said in an interview with www.MyFoxPhoenix.com last November.



Licensing fees and sales tax revenues as ways to offset decades of fiscal mismanagement and faulty economic policies? Brilliant. It's surprising that no one has thought of that as a solution for our latest descent into economic doldrums.



Granted, some may view such a justification as shortsighted, given the tenuous state of Arizona's forests, but come on. You can always grow more plants. The state needs money now, and that doesn't grow on trees, you know.



Of course, it would be unreasonable to represent the thoughts of one lobbyist as those of all state representatives. Legislators spoke up just fine for themselves, framing the issue as one of personal rights.



Two years ago, Republican Rep. Andy Biggs, of Gilbert, described the legalization of fireworks as an attempt ""to poke in the eye those who have the nanny-state mentality.""



So, legalizing fireworks defends us against big government infringing on the right to shoot off fireworks and potentially cause irrevocable ecological and economic harm. Naturally, this doesn't begin to address the individual's right to not have their state set on fire, but that's not what the framers of the Constitution would have wanted.  



Besides, citizens with constitutional rights don't start fires. Illegal immigrants do. Just ask Republican Sen. John McCain.



Pants on fire, all of you.



Earlier this month, people using fireworks near Prescott sparked at least two fires. In one case, the fire began with a 14-year-old girl playing with a Roman candle. In another, the culprit was an 11-year-old boy using legal fireworks without supervision.



The fireworks ban in Pima County is a common-sense measure that comes as a welcome relief from another burn by the Legislature.



 



— Editorials are determined by the Summer Wildcat editorial board. They are Kristina Bui, Miranda Butler, Storm Byrd, Rebecca Rillos and Alex Williams. They can be contacted at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.



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