Illegal aerial fireworks already rankling Oahu residents

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — More than a month before the New Year, illegal aerial fireworks are already booming through several Oahu neighborhoods. Some residents said it is time to re-evaluate current laws to stop the fireworks from coming in.

Residents pointed out that at a time when supply chain issues make it hard to bring in appliances and other goods, there seems to be no problem with bringing in illegal fireworks.

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Larry Veray, chairman of the Pearl City Neighborhood Board, described the explosions as urban terrorism. He said fireworks have gone off practically every night since early October.

“I thought that maybe we could get a reprieve; it will be delayed, just like all the shipping, with all the merchandise. Somehow these things made it to LA and to us quickly,” said Veray.

Veray noted that residents have raised concerns about the harm the explosions can bring to the elderly and pets. He also is worried about where the fireworks are being stored and the potential disaster that could happen with an accidental explosion.

“Where was that stored over the last few weeks, and what safety measures did they take? All it takes is one small mistake and we’ve got a major loss of life,” Veray added.

He also said the state can stop the aerials from coming in by using dogs to sniff them out at the harbors. He added that lawmakers need new ideas to tackle the problem.

“The state legislature needs to form their task force. They need to put the right people on it and, unquestionably, it needs to be federal individuals. Number one — ATF because these are massive explosive devices coming to Hawaii. They need to be involved with that,” Veray explained.

A task force put together a list of recommendations in 2011, but Veray said not much has been done to stop aerials from coming in. He would like to see federal agents stepping in. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Karl Rhoads liked that idea.

“I would certainly support it. I don’t know if they would find anything new but you never know when it’s been a while since the task force has looked at the question of importing fireworks,” Sen. Rhoads said.

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Rhoads added that current laws already make it a felony to bring fireworks in, and new ideas are needed to help law enforcement catch and prosecute violators.

“There’s no question it’s a problem at times of the year when you wouldn’t necessarily expect it to be a problem,” said Rhoads.

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