Fireworks are really being overdone now in the UK. Today, two days before Guy Fawkes' Day, there are more fireworks in the street than there is in Denmark on New Year's eve, which is the only night in DK where fireworks are generally used. Actually this evening the explosions are constant outside, not a break of five seconds to be heard. It's braindead.
Most villages, towns and cities will have an organised public display, as do other organisations - the "soccer" club in my home town for example. Some are free events, some are ticketed, any profits usually going to charity. MGLW and I went to a display in my home town last night. It used to be arranged by the local Roundtable (charitable and community good works group), recently it's been taken over by the Borough Council. It remains free, with stewards carrying buckets for people to donate their loose change. As always we were treated to an excellent 40 minute display! Even the dog enjoyed it.
Fireworks are sold all year round in the UK, business just tends to pick up in the Autumn in preparation for Bonfire Night/Guy Fawkes Night/5th November. In theory fireworks should only be sold to over 18 year olds, but there have been many cases where unscrupulous shop keepers have sold to those under that age.
Let me give you a personal example of the harm they can do. Several years ago I was out with friends around this time of year; we went ten pin bowling. As we had gone in some local "yoofs" had tried throwing eggs at us, but their aim was poor and they missed. When challenged (and out of eggs), they ran off. Later as we were about to leave the bowling alley someone threw a lit firework into the foyer we were just entering. It went off with a tremendous bang and a lot of acrid dense smoke. I'm still a little deaf in one ear to this day from not managing to cover it in time. In retrospect we were quite lucky. It could easily have started a fire, burnt someone and caused a lot of damage.
Selling fireworks to the general public is therefore a bit of a hobby horse of mine. I don't like it, and I think it should be more tightly controlled. This may strike those who know me as being a little out of character, my views are generally more liberal/libertarian. However, let me pose some questions:
Would you let just anyone buy and handle a box of shotgun cartridges? How about a quarter of a stick of dynamite? Or a few ounces of plastic explosives? I'm presuming that most people will say "no" on all three counts. Well, the average box of "family fireworks" you can buy at your local supermarket has more explosive potential than any of them. Because they make pretty colours in the sky a lot of people tend to forget what's in fireworks, namely; gunpowder, cordite and various metals that when ignited burn very quickly and very hot, e.g. magnesium. That's how you get the pretty colours and big noises.
What would I do about it? Well, not an outright ban. I would make sale of fireworks reliant upon the buyer holding a valid licence, renewable each year, obtained from the local police or fire station. There would be a charge for this licence, sufficient to cover the costs of administering the scheme and to make you really want to get one. No licence, no sale and tough penalties for anyone (buyer or seller) breaking the rules.
Hundreds of people each year are hurt by fireworks, often children, many terribly burnt as a result not just of deliberate mishandling, but simple accidents. Ask your local Fire Service or A&E unit and they'll tell you it's one their busiest nights of the year. There are plenty of public, organised displays to go to, and the fireworks used at them them are far superior to anything the average citizen can buy. So, I can't see a good reason to not implement the kind of scheme I mentioned above. And it would cut down the constant barrage Eolake originally commented on.