Councilwoman on illegal fireworks: ‘There is only so much lawmakers can do’

Selling, using, or even having illegal fireworks could send you to jail for up to five years.

Despite the penalty, people are still willing to risk their freedom and their lives to make their new year start with a bang.

It’s a debate that seems to come up every year: What can be done to curb the use of illegal aerials?

KHON2 spoke with city councilwoman Ann Kobayashi and she said, simply put, people just need to be responsible with the cultural tradition.

“Growing up in Hawaii, many people are just used to on New Year’s Eve, they go to grandma’s house, they go to auntie’s house and they all get together, eat, and play fireworks,” the councilwoman said.

It’s an island tradition that can also be dangerous.

Back in 1996, Hawaii law changed to allow everyone to buy as much non-aerial fireworks as they wanted, such as sparklers and fountains in an effort to keep aerial fireworks out of the skies.

It’s unclear if that actually worked, but that did lead to later complaints about too much noise and smoke.

“There was a move to try to allow fountains and other harmless kind of fireworks, but I don’t think we’ll be pushing that especially after what happened,” Kobyashi told KHON2. “That’s what makes it hard to do the really harmless fountains, because things like this happen and then it casts this big black cloud over all fireworks.”

Kobayashi adds that she stands behind the current permit system for firecrackers but she says, ultimately, there is only so much lawmakers can do to keep people safe.

“We all have to be responsible for our children, for ourselves, so we can’t really legislate people into being responsible,” she said.

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