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Advertisement Fireworks now legal in Iowa: What could possibly go wrong?
by Dan Brawner Columnist · July 6th, 2017


When Iowa became a "shall issue" state in 2010, making it a whole lot easier for the average Iowan over 21 to get a permit to carry a gun, I figured everybody and his grandmother would start packing heat and the next time somebody sneezed in a crowded elevator, it would be like Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. It's true, the number of gun permits shot up, but that was all.

Now that Iowans have proven we can keep our powder dry and our fingers off the trigger, it seems we are now to be trusted with something else dangerous - fireworks. Until Governor Branstad recently signed the bill allowing the sale of fireworks, Iowa was one of only four states that allowed only sparklers and other "novelty" fireworks like those gross "snakes" that leave disgusting black extrusions on your sidewalk that look like somebody neglected to use a doggy doo bag.

Iowa's newfound freedom to blow ourselves up has some people worried. Even before the new law, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported that over the Fourth of July holiday, some 60 fireworks victims are admitted to emergency rooms for burns or other injuries. And it isn't cheap, either. The average hospital charge is $32,696.

Senator Tony Bisignano (D-Des Moines) fought hard against the bill, saying many health and safety groups, including the Iowa Medical Society and the Iowa Firefighters Association, opposed it. Senator Matt McCoy (D-Des Moines) complained that the bill did not allow for local control. Although local governments cannot prevent the sale of fireworks in their town, they can limit their use. So residents can have their cake, they just can't blow it up.

As a result of this provision, many cities have passed ordinances that effectively prohibit the use of fireworks within city limits. And if you think M-80s have a short fuse, you should check out the fireworks manufacturers. Bellino Fireworks, Inc., out of Papillion, Neb., is suing Ankeny, Johnston, Pleasant Hill and Boone, claiming they stand to lose more than $280,000. American Promotional Events, another fireworks company, is seeking legal action in Polk County District Court, claiming their right to sell fireworks to Iowans has been unfairly diminished.

I remember seeing those billboards in Indiana for Krazy Kaplan's Fireworks, depicting a cartoon of what I assumed was Mr. Kaplan, looking appropriately insane, wearing an Uncle Sam top hat and holding a lit stick of dynamite. As a kid, I yearned to take the exit to Krazy Kaplan's and buy bottle rockets and cherry bombs. But my parents wouldn't hear of it. Being frugal as they were, they probably didn't want the $32,696 hospital bill.

It's no surprise why we now have fireworks sales in Iowa.The Iowa Legislative Services Agency estimates fireworks sales this year will top $17.8 million, with state sales tax revenues of $1.1 million.

Now it remains to be seen whether Iowans can handle our fireworks as well as we handle our guns.
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