Sunday, January 7, 2001
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Posted on: Sunday, January 7, 2001

Letters to the Editor

Fireworks! Fireworks!

Politicians will pay for New Year’s tragedy

Well, the "fantastic" law you passed concerning fireworks really paid off didn’t it? I wonder if the lady who died in the fiery inferno of her home was comforted in her last thoughts that the fireworks starting the blaze were for "cultural" reasons or someone’s idiotic right to have fun. I hardly think so.

I implore all those able to read this and able to vote: remember the so-called "lawmakers" refusing to vote for a total ban on fireworks. When election time rolls around, remember them by getting them out of office where they can no longer do harm.

It isn’t the "cultural" concerns keeping fireworks alive in this state, it is the almighty dollar and those getting kickbacks. I along with many friends, relative and co-workers will be a voice to be heard at the time these legislative yoyos start asking for votes to keep their egos inflated. No more.

Patricia Crain

More deaths caused by beer, automobiles

First it was marijuana; now it’s fireworks. Two easy and fashionable targets. Why easy? Because marijuana is grown best in the open and is easy to find and firecrackers are a once a year occurrence. Now, marijuana is harder to get but ice or crack is not.

How about outlawing the most deadly and costly popular use item of all: beer? Next we could outlaw cars too, as they cause far more deaths and property damage than fireworks and marijuana combined. Politicians and government officials love to stand up against easy targets, but alcohol and autos they never touched.

Get real or get off our backs.

Steve Tayama

Answer these questions if you support fireworks

I would like to ask Sen. Rod Tam and any other legislators who support fireworks to answer the following questions:

Who will die if they are not allowed to light fireworks? Who will go to hell if they are not allowed to light fireworks? How many people have already died because someone else was allowed to light fireworks? How many must suffer the stress of sporadic, loud and unexpected explosions as a result of fireworks? How many with asthma and other related respiratory problems have to suffer physically, as well as having to leave home on New Year’s Eve to stay in hotels, shelters, and hospitals to avoid smoke inhalation? How many innocent people are Sen. Rod Tam willing to sacrifice on the altar of fireworks madness?

The Rev. Connie Lee Jennings

Following aerial trails to violators isn’t easy

The author of the editorial on fireworks (Jan. 4) found it "perplexing" that police have difficulty locating those who use aerial fireworks, comparing the task to locating someone lost at sea who has set off a rescue flare. Let me spell it out for you.

Flares direct a rescuer to the general area of a missing boater. Since the boat in distress is obviously alone on an open sea, finding this boat by looking in the general area of the flare is possible.

Those who set of aerial fireworks generally do not do so from vast, open areas. They do so from streets or yards in densely populated neighborhoods. While police may be able to find the general area from which the aerial originated, finding the precise location and identifying the culprit by following the path of the aerial is usually quite difficult. Unless, of course, the culprit decides to take a boat out to the open sea first.

Jerry Inouye

Immune incompetence keeps dangers alive

Every time I hear a firecracker explode I think of the immune incompetence of our state legislators for whom the bell never tolls. How many traditional human sacrifices must be made before they do the right thing?

David Arthur Walters

Smaller shipments should reduce aerials

Thanks for your New Year’s Day headline "2001 enters Hawaii relatively peacefully." I agree that it was a "a dramatic contrast to the deafening, smoke-shrouded, 24-hour bomb-fest of a year ago."

Although there were 132 calls to the fire department this year compared to 118 last New Year’s Eve, I am not sure that they all represent separate fires. Many people probably called about the tragic Palolo fire that took the life of Lillian Herring.

While some suggested sales of aerials were up, this was not the case in East Honolulu. From my window I saw an aerial fireworks display one year ago that lasted for hours. The sky was continuously lit up with various exploding pyrotechnics. This year, only a fraction of this aerial activity took place. Although aerials were still going up regularly, there were noticeable gaps between launches.

One reason that far fewer aerial fireworks caused so many fires is that most of them were probably stored here in Hawaii since last July or last New Year’s Eve-in order to avoid the new fireworks regulations that went into effect for this year’s celebration.

Unfortunately, when fireworks are stored here, not only do they pose a fire hazard, they also absorb moisture from our relatively humid atmosphere. This leads to a significant increase in the number of fireworks that misfire or do not ignite properly. When an aerial type misfires, it is particularly dangerous.

The huge shipments of firecrackers in the past could easily hide boxes of aerials in their midst. The smaller, more tightly controlled shipments under the new regulations will help cut down on aerial fireworks even more in the future.

Wally Bachman
Science Adviser, Citizens Advocating Responsible Education

Lung Association offered welcome safe haven

Please allow me to use this means to say thank you to the American Lung Association for arranging the "Safe Havens" New Year’s Eve. I suffer from breathing problems and gladly took up the offer provided as a "Safe Haven."

While we had our choice of several hotels and theaters, my friend and I chose to go to Dole Theaters to spend our evening. Our first movie started at 10:05 p.m. and ended at 12:05 a.m. The second movie we chose started at 12:15 a.m. and ended at 2:30 a.m. At that time we left the theater to go to our car and found the skies clear and bright — we had escaped the terrible smoke.

It was a wonderful idea, and I am sure much appreciated by the other people in the theater who came to escape the smoke and noise for whatever reason. I was surprised the next day when I spoke to some friends who said that they had not heard of such an opportunity-it was well-publicized for over a week.

Thanks again, American Lung Association and the several participating hotels, Signature and Wallace Theaters.

Norma J. Nicholl

Prohibition never works no matter the substance

Those who support a total ban on fireworks should be careful what they wish for. Prohibition never works. Powerful government officials see some thing they do not like (guns, marijuana, tobacco, now fireworks), then the government tries to prohibit everyone, responsible or irresponsible, from using it. The inevitable results are higher prices, criminal black markets, less use of safe and benign products and increased use of dangerous products.

For example, the crackdown on marijuana in Hawaii lead directly to the increase in "ice" abuse. Prohibition of legal betting has allowed organized crime to control gambling in Hawaii. Excessive taxes on cigarettes are creating a black market in tobacco in Hawaii. Prohibition never produces the safety and prosperity that its advocates promise.

Instead, government officials must change the debate to accommodate their previous failure. Should we pass stricter fireworks laws or use more draconian measures to enforce the prohibition laws which have failed us so far?

A far better proposal would utilize the libertarian principles of freedom and personal responsibility. Allow people to buy and sell any fireworks they choose, then punish only the irresponsible users for any damage that they cause.

Gerard Murphy, RN

Police masquerade could catch violators

I think I have the answer to help police find and arrest those using illegal fireworks. Have them go undercover as a TV news crew.

Dean Hayashi

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