Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Big bang theory: The more the 4th of July changes ..

The Iowa Legislature, in its wisdom, relaxed the laws regulating public interaction with fireworks a couple of years ago --- with mixed response. Boys will be boys and many of all ages enjoy blowing things up. On the other hand, neighbors, dogs and the occasional combat veteran find the things annoying.

Back in 1908, the firecracker laws had just been tightened up by an earlier incarnation of that same Iowa Legislature --- and public safety advocates were joyful. 

The Chariton Patriot, in its edition of July 2, 1908, celebrated with a front-page story headlined, "Less Noise and Fewer Injuries: Such is Aim of the New Fourth of July Law." Here's the text:

The small boy will find on this Fourth of July that his privileges in the use of firecrackers and other explosives has been much curtailed if the new law governing the sale of such explosives is enforced as it should be. The new law reads:

"No person shall use, sell or offer for sale within the state any toy pistols, toy revolvers, caps containing dynamite, blank cartridges for toy pistols or toy revolvers or firecrackers more than five inches in length and three fourths of an inch in diameter; provided caps containing dynamite may be used, kept for sale or sold when needed for mining purposes, or for danger signals, or for other necessary uses. Any person violating the provisions of this act shall be fined not exceeding $100, or be imprisoned in the county jail not exceeding thirty days."

The mayor and his officers should see that this law is enforced to the letter. The alarming number of deaths that occur each year due to lock-jaw caused by children being wounded by explosions of various kinds of noise producers, to say nothing of the eyes blown out and hands torn to shreds, has awakened the people to demand that the instruments of these terrible accidents no longer be sold. The manufacturers and dealers, generally, have seemed not to care how much havoc might be wrought by the placing of deadly explosives in the hands of children, so the newspapers of the land have joined in a demand for the prohibition of the sale of such explosives. The demand has been answered in part by restrictive legislation. But this legislation has not gone far enough in its restrictions. If the manufacturers and dealers do not heed the declaration for a Fourth without dangerous noise machines the result will be that explosives and fireworks of all kinds will be placed under the ban of the law.

There were no follow-up stories, so I'm unable to report whether or not the new legislation made a difference.


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