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Tuesday, 30 May, 2000, 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK
Should fireworks be banned?

After the devastating explosions in the Netherlands Spain and Italy, the Europewide Debate asks, should fireworks be banned?

Quite apart from the rights and wrongs of siting fireworks factories in built-up areas, should the general public be allowed to play with such dangerous substances or should fireworks be restricted to public pyrotechnics displays - or outlawed altogether?

Ron Lancaster, the Managing Director of Kimbolton Fireworks - the last company in Britain to make a full range of fireworks and Rob Groen of Radio Netherlands debated the issue on this week's edition of the Europwide Debate.

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.




If small, common fireworks are banned, people will buy on the black market

Speer, Germany
The recent tragic explosions happened because fireworks were not stored safely. Even if the general public was banned from using fireworks, they would still need to be stored for public displays. The recent millennium celebrations showed us how popular pyrotechnics are with the European public, so I don't think banning them altogether would be very popular. The answer lies in better safety standards at firework warehouses.
Dave Lock, Wales

If small, common fireworks are banned, people will buy on the black market. Without controls, the use of Class B fireworks in wrong hands will bring much more harm.
Speer, Germany

In life we assume risk and responsibility with many thinks we chose to do: medical care, driving, drinking, delivery of natural gas to homes and businesses, boating, etc. The use of small fireworks can be made safe with the proper regulation and education. Without knowing the facts, I suspect that a prime cause of the explosion in the Netherlands was corruption or incompetence of public officials.
Larry H, USA

If a plane crashed because a pilot got his qualifications by bribing the examiner, would everyone want to ban aeroplanes? I doubt it.
Luke Mason, UK



The situation in the Netherlands was exacerbated by locating large quantities of goods in a residential neighbourhood

Warren Klofkorn, USA
The recent unfortunate events notwithstanding, I believe fireworks should be legal and regulated for safety. The situation in the Netherlands was exacerbated by locating large quantities of goods in a residential neighbourhood. However, this was an exceptional situation. Fireworks remain relatively safe compared with other consumer goods.
Warren Klofkorn, USA

If the recent horrible accidents are the reason to debate the banning of fireworks, then why is there never any discussion on the banning of planes after a plane crash?
Rembert A, The Netherlands

I don't think that any ban of fireworks will ever kill the fascination some people (especially young ones) have about them. A much better way would be to educate people about fireworks. We are surrounded by dangerous things all our lives but get taught how to use of them safely. Why should fireworks be an exception?
Stefan Wimmer, Germany

Fireworks are fine in the hands of professionals. But, they should not be available to the general public. They are as dangerous as firearms, particularly in the hands of teenagers. There are also many reports of serious and/or fatal injuries to people who were apparently following the instructions and behaving sensibly. Ban them.
Michael, UK



A system of licensing the sale and use is needed

John, UK
Fireworks should be banned or at least their distribution should be more effectively controlled. We know that children and teenagers can purchase them from supermarkets and newsagent shops with just the same ease as purchasing cigarettes or alcohol.
In the wrong hands fireworks are potentially more dangerous to innocent third parties and should carry greater restrictions than other licensed substances. A system of licensing the sale and use is needed. They should only be available to homeowners and tenants for use in the confines of a back garden or similar enclosed space. It should be illegal to use them in the street.
John, UK



Fingers are torn off, eyes are blown out - and that is what happens inevitably even without entire factories blowing up

Peter, Netherlands
Here in the Netherlands, at the turn of the New Year millions of guilders' worth goes up in smoke in the space of ten minutes. The air is filled with noxious compounds of sulphur and nitrogen and the streets are covered with paper waste which, as often as not, is left there to rot away in the course of the year. Fingers are torn off, eyes are blown out. And that is what happens inevitably even without entire factories blowing up.
Having said that I can understand the pleasure people derive from a colourful display of fireworks. But can this desire not be satisfied by a single public display set up under controlled conditions? As a spin-off this would reduce demand for fireworks, and hence the need for a large number of dangerous factories.
Peter, Netherlands

One of my most interesting memories of my teenage years was having to defend a girl close to my age who had committed the horrible crime of setting off fireworks on July 4th. I was 15 years old and assigned the job through my involvement in my town's "youth court" program. Even at that age, I was struck at how insane the idea of firecrakers being illegal was. If someone is careful about what they do, as was my client, there should be no problem. If someone else is injured, there are suitable punishments already on the proverbial "books".
Stacey, USA



In the hands of a responsible person, fireworks are as safe as crossing the road

Paul R, UK
In the hands of a responsible person, fireworks are as safe as crossing the road. Should we ban knives and buy everything pre-sliced, or stop the use of gas in everyone's home? These are equally dangerous and used every day, not just once a year.
Paul R, UK

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13 May 00 | Europe
In pictures: Firework blaze


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