In the 90's I was at Plymouth Harbor watching the fireworks display when someone a few hundred feet away set off some off some illegal fireworks into the crowd badly injuring a five year old boy.
A man I used to work with bore burn scars on his face, arms and chest from setting off fireworks when he was a teenager.
And as a child growing up in Middleboro in the 70's, it was common knowledge that you took your life into your hands wading through the drugged-out firecracker crowd at the annual town display.
I have a lot of stories like that. A lot of people do. Google "fireworks injuries" if you think I'm lying.
According to Mass General's web site:
Both sparklers and firecrackers have the potential to entertain. But, when they are misused or some type of mishap occurs, they have the ability to harm severely or kill. On average, every year, more than eight thousand people are treated at hospital emergency rooms for injuries related to fireworks. About fifty percent of these are burns involving the head, eyes or hands. There are also instances in which a fireworks accident has resulted in a profound loss of hearing and/or blindness. It has been estimated that one-third of such injuries to the eyes result in permanent blindness. Approximately seven percent of firework injuries require hospitalization. It has been estimated that in the U.S. the annual cost of fireworks related injuries is one hundred million dollars. But fireworks do not only hurt people, they harm buildings. They have triggered life-threatening fires.
Massachusetts bans most kinds of fireworks, but that doesn't stop people from using them, getting hurt, and hurting others. In fact, people can just go across the border to New Hampshire and buy illegally, or even through catalogs and the Internet.
So let's see... something a lot of people consider entertaining, but which has the potential to cause harm, and which has a long recorded history of causing harm to the people engaged in using it, as well as the innocent, is illegal here in Massachusetts, therefore prompting many people to cross State lines in order to obtain it.
So, why aren't we here today, discussing the possibility of legalizing currently illegal and dangerous fireworks, collecting a certain percentage of the revenue, and using it to shore up our State budget?
Shouldn't our leadership accept responsibility for the safety of the Commonwealth's citizens, whether the potential injuries come from the burns associated with fireworks or from the impacts caused by gambling addiction - like child neglect and abuse, domestic abuse, bankruptcies, foreclosures, violent and white collar crime? And suicide?
Or is the only difference in the eyes of some legislators not the type of the potential injury, but the size of the potential payoff? A payoff that will quickly become absorbed into our budget - probably leading to more industry expansion?
Oh, and I should probably mention that the impacts from State-sponsored predatory gambling don't occur when "they are misused or some type of mishap occurs". They result when the consumer does exactly what the industry and slot proponents expect and count on them to do - "play to extinction."
So... I'm wondering if these Statehouse denizens will prove as independent as the great nation we celebrate every July 4th? Or merely the servile doormats of powerful and connected pro-slots legislators and the ubiquitous predatory-gambling lobbyists who love them.
This may be the land of the free - but is our Statehouse really a home of the brave?