Fireworks versus nanny state

Is the gradual clampdown on the sale and use of fireworks a reasonable and acceptable response to irresponsible behaviour and inherent dangers?

Or is it an unacceptable creep of nanny state?

When I was a child a bonfire and rockets were the highlight of Guy Fawkes night but crackers were a lot of fun in the lead up days. We made Guy’s and burnt them without any idea of the grim history of punishment it depicted, it was just fun.

Crackers were banned by the time I had my own children. Sales have been restricted more and more.

We seem to be moving towards public fireworks displays only, conducted by professionals. The are much more dramatic but strictly hands off.

This doesn’t affect me personally with kids grown up now and no interest in DIY any more.

The down sides of fireworks are significant – injury, starting fires accidentally and scaring pets and livestock are not insignificant.

But are we and our kids being cotton-wooled too much?

Is it protecting us from ourselves, or from a few excessive fools?

Leave a comment


  1. kittycatkin

     /  5th November 2014

    I like fireworks (hate the noise, love the colours) but believe that they are now so large and noisy that they will end up being banned. Our dog is a Maltese terrier-his deceptive fluffy exterior contains a very brave, gutsy terrier inside-but he goes ballistic at the sound of fireworks, though he’s not afraid of much else. They’re just too damned LOUD now. I hate hearing about dead and injured horses. I hate hearing about traumatised animals generally. A friend’s dog ran into the road when a firework exploded near him (ages after the 5th, so long after that nobody would have expected it) and was fatally injured. We saw the house fire tonight. Public, contained displays are the way to go.

    • kathy maddren

       /  5th November 2014

      Past few nights, it has sounded like I am on a World War One or Two front line.

      I want fireworks banned.

      • kittycatkin

         /  6th November 2014

        I have two neighbours who are volunteer firemen…they were out twice at least last night. The second time was so soon after the first that they’d only just have arrived home again. These are two men who are working and would have had to go to work after a night like that. Our dog isn’t afraid of much, but he freaks out over fireworks and I have to go to bed as soon as they begin and take him in with me. That’s not that much of a hardship, but it’s a nuisance to have to do night after night. I can tell when one of the firemen goes out because his lights shine right into my room-I am lying snugly there while he and the man next door have to spend a good bit of the night putting out fires begun by fireworks. They’re so much more powerful now than they were when I was a child that I find them quite frightening-they go such long distances ! Thank Heaven the four horses in this road happen to be grazing somewhere else, as the people who have such loud fireworks whizzing in all directions probably wouldn’t be put off by the thought that the horses were terrified and possibly badly hurt as they panicked and ran into a fence.

  2. From a common law perspective it comes down to carelessness. The duty of care is the correlative of the right of public liberty, this is what distinguishes culpable negligence from accidents which are due to an honest mistake.

    The legislation of the state looks more towards the acts of the person rather than the intent, and so the innocent are prosecuted along with the guilty.

    • kittycatkin

       /  7th November 2014

      I suppose that it has to be so. The problem is that accidents with fireworks can cost lives, and a house in Hamilton was set alight by a firework with the owner asleep inside-she was saved from a potentially horrible death by some boys who happened to see the fire. It must have been an ‘honest mistake’, but a potentially deadly one.

      Careless driving isn’t done to kill people, but the people hit are just as dead.

      The state surely does distinguish intent from acts in some cases, like manslaughter vs. murder. And nobody, surely, would be charged with burglary if they broke into a chemist to get something that would save a life. Under most circumstances, knocking someone down is assault, but if a child was about to run into the road and be killed, wouldn’t most people knock it down if that was the only way to prevent it ? And I bet they wouldn’t be charged.

      • Mike C

         /  8th November 2014

        When does the fireworks season end ???

      • A necessary evil is still evil. Sometimes the good outweighs the evil, like knocking a child over to prevent them from being killed, and sometimes it doesn’t, like an addict breaking into a chemist because they “needed” the drugs.

        You’re right that the state does sometimes consider intent, but generally it’s not the case. Protection of the rights of the minority as a quality of democracy depends on the rule of law, and the law looks to the intent rather than to the concrete. When the state does not uphold the rule of law the innocent can suffer, to say that this it neccesary in order for the system to function doesn’t change the morality of the situation.

        It’s also true that sometimes the police will consider then intent or the natural justice of the situation and choose not to prosecute, but there’s always the risk that the motivation to fulfill a quota will overcome their better judgement.


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