Want to light up the sky on the Fourth of July?
Sen. David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, introduced legislation to let you do that -- but only if you live in Pima or Maricopa county.
Arizona law allowed things like sparklers, fountains, smoke devices and illuminated torches since 2009. This approval came only after industry lobbyists, responding to concerns about safety and fires, assured lawmakers anything exploding or shooting into the air would remain illegal.
SB 1667 would change that.
It would specifically allow the sale of what the industry calls “multiple tube aerial devices.’’
Think about a box, around the size of a car battery, with anywhere from nine to 15 tubes. You put it on the ground, light the fuse and, one by one, a rocket shoots about 100 feet into the air and explodes.
Gowan said a look around any community around Independence Day, New Year’s Day or other celebration events proves these kinds of devices already are in common use. He said Arizonans are bringing them back from New Mexico, where fireworks dealers set up shop along the border.
“So we’re just missing the money,’’ he said.
Gowan brushed aside the fact anyone who uses those devices now can be arrested.
“I don’t see many people in jail for shooting those off,’’ he said. “It’s a fact they’re not doing that.’’
Mike Williams, who lobbies for TNT Fireworks which crafted the legislation, said the measure does not legalize other types of aerial devices he said can be more dangerous.
Part of what makes these “safer,’’ he said, is the device remains on the ground where it shoots straight up. He said it’s quite different from hand-held Roman candles as well as reloadable mortars which can tip over and send an explosive rocket in an unintended direction.
And Gowan dismissed concerns having an airborne explosive creates a fire hazard.
“You know, New Mexico is full blown,’’ he said, with the state allowing all sorts of explosive and aerial devices. “And you don’t see all those hazards over there.’’
Still, Gowan agreed to limit the availability of these new items to the state’s two largest counties, saying that the metro areas were the first to allow the legal sale of fireworks. He said rural counties have been given “some leeway’’ in deciding what is appropriate.
“It just seemed like a logical area to start,’’ he said.
Gowan has at least an indirect financial interest in the availability of more legal fireworks as he operates one of those pop-up sales tents in the Chandler area around the legal sales days. But Gowan said Arizona has a “citizen Legislature’’ where lawmakers are expected to have outside employment and are expected to bring their outside knowledge to the Capitol.
Nothing in the legislation would change the days when Arizonans can purchase and use the kind of fireworks are legal. Those include Independence Day, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Cinco do Mayo and the festival of Diwali which is celebrated among some who have Asian Indian roots.