New measure could make it harder for people in Hawaii to buy fireworks

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A couple of people were hospitalized for fireworks injuries last New Year’s Eve and one person from Kauai died. Now there is a new measure at the Hawaii State Legislature that could make it harder for people statewide to purchase fireworks.

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People around Hawaii would be able to purchase fireworks only if they are used for cultural purposes under the measure. They would need to apply for a permit, similar to how it is now, but any non-cultural firework-use would be prohibited.

The measure was introduced on behalf of the Hawaii State Fire Council. In a testimony, the Hawaii State Fire Council said:

“The widespread use of fireworks endangers the public … The pervasive use of permitted fireworks by the public encourages the sale and use of illegal fireworks.”

Some say stricter rules could mean more illegal fireworks being sold, however.

“The fireworks ban on Oahu has not been successful and illegal aerials are at an all-time high, a statewide ban would net the same results,” said John Garibaldi, American Promotional Events. “Other states have recently reversed their bans and offered safe alternatives to fireworks such as fountains, and ground spinners.”

The bill will be going to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Sen. Karl Rhoads is the chair.

“If we put more restrictions on it, unless there’s some effective way to enforce it or to interdict the container loads of the fireworks that are coming in. I’m not sure any of the regulation is going to make much difference.”

Sen. Karl Rhoads, (D) Liliha, Chinatown, Downtown

Council members around the state say illegal fireworks are the main issue.

“I know there’s cultural events that happen which has been following the process which is okay,” said Bernard Carvalho, Kauai County Council member. “But what we’re concerned about is just this illegal kind of fireworks and things that are happening within our community that can cause all kinds of stuff even someone to lose their life, and that’s terrible.”

The Maui Council chair said, illegal vendors need to be targeted.

“It would be very helpful if the state legislators passed laws that would restrict or flat out prohibit vendors from selling fireworks,” said Alice Lee, Maui County Council chair. “That way it’ll be easier for us to enforce any violators that were able to obtain or secure fireworks illegally.”

Additional bills at the state legislature include one that would increase the fines of the use of illegal fireworks and one that would make the adjudication system faster to process firework infractions in court.

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