Fireworks fail. Legal in Arizona? Consult a map and ask a legislator. Stupid in Arizona? Every day, every way.

Legal in Arizona? Consult a map and ask a legislator. Stupid in Arizona? Every day, every way.

There’s a real love–hate relationship with fireworks. You could say people run hot or cold on the topic.

That is illustrated well in Arizona, where we legislate their purchase and use in ways that are not always entirely clear to the governed.

This week, an Arizona Republic story tries to clear the smoke from the issue. Titled “Valley cities brace for revamped fireworks law,” it opens:

“Cities and towns across metro Phoenix hope a change in state fireworks laws doesn’t prompt an increase in fires this Fourth of July. Senate Bill 1158, signed by Gov. Jan Brewer in April, requires municipalities in Maricopa and Pima counties to allow the sale and use of ground fireworks around July 4 and New Year’s Day.”

“The law allows their sale from May 20 through July 6 and from Dec. 10 through Jan. 3 and their use from June 24 through July 6 and from Dec. 24 through Jan. 3.”

Well, what could be confusing about that?

Read the whole story here.

In the law’s defense, the whole thing was pretty confusing before. Nearly everywhere you go, fireworks have been available for sale—but whether you could light them off was another matter.

I’ve always appreciated the irony of politicos bemoaning a lack of civic engagement and low levels of understanding of government, while allowing fireworks to be sold EVERYwhere—and then scratching that heads when people don’t “get it” that they can’t actually set them off most places.

I suppose lawmakers thought folks liked to display them in their dining room.

Are you planning on setting off anything more powerful than sparklers this Independence Day? And do you give a lot of thought to statutory pronouncements on fireworks, or do you take a more, ahem, intuitive approach to the matter?

Sure, you may be able to buy them. But are fireworks legal to set off in your community?

Sure, you may be able to buy them. But are fireworks legal to set off in your community?

Sure, you may be able to buy them. But are fireworks legal to set off in your community?

Sure, you may be able to buy them. But are fireworks legal to set off in your community?

Not to be a wet blanket, but there is an interaction between Independence Day and the law.

No, I don’t mean that obvious connection that involves Founding Fathers signing a letter to a king.

Instead, I refer to the annual question about fireworks: legal or illegal (or illegal but safe to set off)?

As you make your own ethical and legal decisions for the next day and evening, I point you to an Atlantic article about “The Great Illegal Fireworks Crackdown of 2013.” (Dramatic? Yes. But effective too.)

Here’s how writer Arit John opens:

“This Fourth of July, feel free to grill as many burgers and drink as many beers as your heart desires. But know that if you decide to partake in one of the most American traditions of all — driving over state lines and returning with a trunk load of fireworks — cops all across the nation will be waiting for you more than ever.”

Read the complete article here.

And click here for detail about your own Arizona community’s position on fireworks.

Have a great Fourth.