The issue is not 'if' fireworks tragedy will occur, just 'when'


POSTED: Wednesday, January 06, 2010

I am outraged that this state and its lawmakers cannot come to terms with the issue of banning fireworks completely. This is a serious public safety issue that affects the health and well-being of many of the state's citizens, especially on the island of Oahu.

My husband has asthma and my mother has COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) — both could not leave their bedrooms, the only areas of the house with air conditioning. I have friends that rent a room in Waikiki to get their children out of the smoke every New Year. Why should anyone have to do this?

The news reported that 8,055 fireworks permits were issued by the City & County of Honolulu. Oahu has a population pushing 1 million people. Does the term “;minority”; mean anything to you? Those with health issues are held hostage in their homes for what benefit?

My neighborhood in Pearl City has had illegal aerials and many massive booming explosions since before Thanksgiving. Why do this state's citizens have to deal with this?

If the issue is that it is cultural, I just don't buy it. My family has been here since 1881 and we don't find it necessary to discomfort our neighbors. Let's legalize cockfighting too — isn't that argued as being cultural? Law-abiding citizens think nothing of shooting off illegal aerials and the other bombs.

The police themselves say they are just about powerless to enforce the existing weak ban on illegal fireworks. I tried to call 911 twice on New Year's Eve at about 7 p.m. — my total wait time was about 20 minutes; I gave up.

Yearly the police department and fire department call for a complete ban on all fireworks and yearly our lawmakers do not deal with the problem. There will be no solution to this problem until there is a total ban, with stiffer penalties and stricter enforcement. Barring a total ban on all fireworks, culpability should begin with possession of the illegal fireworks, not the current “;caught in the act”; scenario.

There is no “;if”; to the fact that a serious tragedy will occur due to illegal fireworks, just a “;when.”; When it does occur, the citizens of the state can hold accountable their legislators who chose not to address the problem.


Charlene M. Arjona is a resident of Pearl City.