Legalize Multiple Consumer Fireworks on Oahu
  • Petitioning City and County of Honolulu

This petition will be delivered to:

City and County of Honolulu

Legalize Multiple Consumer Fireworks on Oahu

    1. TaraMarie Panoke
    2. Petition by

      TaraMarie Panoke

      Waianae, HI

What are consumer fireworks? - Consumer fireworks are those fireworks engineered for use by the general public. They include your average fountains, spinners, ground bloomers, red whips, morning glories and even your plain ol' sparklers. Since 2011, those listed have been illegal on the island of Oahu.  Many residents did not know the full extent of the new law until they walked into retailers after Christmas that year.

What progress have we made? -Since the start of this petition, City & Council members have seen the petition and were emailed a whopping 32 pages of petition comments! It was however noted that it would be unlikely that consumer fireworks would be completely legalized once more.

Where are we going now? -This petition is being re-opened and updated as of February 2014 with no substantial changes, but will alter dated content, definitions and additional information.

As a note -Though a "ban" may not be the proper legal term for the law that restricts fireworks use, it will be used throughout this petition to indicate said law or bill. It is also used as the name of our movement to legalize further forms of consumer fireworks: "UnBan Honolulu Fireworks."

Background

The illegalization of consumer fireworks on Oahu is a movement that benefits few and disenfranchises the many. For years, consumer fireworks such as sparklers and firecrackers have been a part of Hawai'i's culture when it comes to the New Years holiday. The "ban," put into action after yearly complaints of the smoke by some, dampers the celebratory activities of the many in the claim that it is for the "good" and health of all.

Ironically, the ban makes all "normal" consumer fireworks illegal such as fountains, ground bloomers, and even sparklers while allowing the most dangerous--firecrackers--to still be purchased so long as the consumer has bought a $25 permit for each firecracker content of 5000 "tubes."

Self-Defeat?

While it is Hawai'i tradition to set off long strings of firecrackers at the break of midnight or 12AM New Years day, without any other option for fireworks purchases, consumers will buy more of the smoke-causing firecrackers than ever. I, in particular, told myself that the permit was not going to stop me from celebrating the way I have since I was a child - a notion that I am sure many have come to as well. In line at city hall one year, I had noticed that consumers were purchasing as many as eight permits at once, proving that a permit was not going to stop them from celebrating.

On the retail side of things, retailers have been forced to only sell the traditional red-tube versions of firecrackers. Sometime around 2009, these traditional versions were largely dropped for the lighter, far-less costly version of firecrackers. While the traditional versions consisted of countless rolls of red paper to contain the explosive powders, the newer versions did not use individual paper rolls and instead were engineered to have less debris (as nearly all of it would burn up). Traditional versions, on the other hand, are well-known for all of the red paper tubes left behind, occasionally even catching fire and littering our sidewalks.  These red tubes also pose injury threat because they fly at high speeds in all directions. So why is it, then, that retailers are forced to sell only these traditional versions of the firecrackers if the aim is to "protect" people? 'Auwe!

The Department of Homeland Security did a Dangers of Fireworks study in 2005.  These statistics only include consumer fireworks:

"Firecrackers were responsible for the greatest number of injuries (1,600) in 2003, followed by bottle rockets (1,000) and sparklers (700)."

Now, you must remember that this data is made up of all states including those that have no permit system or limits, which may explain the high number of injuries, however, look at the first statistic.  Firecrackers - the only consumer firework that the city and county allows us to have, are the most dangerous apparently.  Sparklers have half as much injuries and are likely to be attributed to the hands of those whom aren't careful with them.

I am not suggesting to ban firecrackers instead of everything else, however, it seems clearly apparent that allowing the newer version of them would be an integral part of squelching the "safety" concern of state officials - one that seems to be severely self-defeated by the ban that ONLY allows the most dangerous of consumer firecrackers.  Did anyone do their research and think this through before putting the new law in place?

Excuses

Speaking of safety, though the concern may be real, in the context of things, it is merely an excuse to exercise a law that satiates the "affected."  Why?  First is the irony of the ban explained above.  Second is that more likely than not, the loudest noises, the serious safety issues and serious injuries come from illegal aerial fireworks.  Consider that the launching of an aerial consists of an explosive projectile hurled into the air at 100 feet per second.  That converts to a more understandable speed of 68 miles per hour.  Also, should such aerials fail to launch high enough, have faulty detonations, or simply go the wrong way, they pose a fire threat to roofs and trees.

It is these kinds of fireworks that pose the greatest safety threat to all, however, the excuse of safety is being used to ban consumer fireworks instead.  Consumer fireworks are much more manageable.  If I could pull the sales of consumer fireworks from New Year's past, I could give you an extremely large number of consumer fireworks sold vs. the number of injuries, fires and so forth... and more than likely you would see that such occurances are the extreme minority.  My family and I have used consumer fireworks since I was little, every year for about 25 years.  Never have I been harmed, gotten sick, or have seen anyone else harmed.  Is that enough proof of a rareity for the state?

Common sense and even the facts are there: stop using safety as an excuse for the ban.

Economic Effects

In addition to the dangers of the traditional version, the city's ban on all consumer fireworks causes a huge damper on the sales that many retailers could rely on year after year.  No doubt it also affects the various owners of pop-ups during the season and have run many of them out of business. The ban is bad for the economy and also causes a hardship on the residents here whom need to now spend a total of about $75.00 per each firecracker content of 5000 individual tubes.  It is $25 per permit and around $50 for the full 5000 tube content firecracker (this means it is one string, 5000 crackers long), because consumers are not allowed to purchase the cheaper version.

Effects on Culture and Tradition

The hardship also comes in the form of a severe demoralizing.  The New Year's fireworks celebration has been a family tradition for myself and many others since as long as I could remember.  After learning I could not purchase even the smallest of sparklers as an adult, it has been incredibly depressing the closer and closer I get to New Years.  Update:  It truly has been a depressing past New Years.  We did not celebrate at all to bring in 2014.  It was the first this has happened since I can remember.

Many of us believe that fireworks ward off bad spirits as is rooted in the Chinese tradition.  What about for those whom are actually Chinese?  Our local population is made up of vastly different cultures including a population estimate of over 54,000 (Census 2009) Chinese-alone in the state of Hawaii; and that is nothing to speak of those of us whom are mixed.  It is not unknown that many also celebrate Chinese New Year in February.  It is just like telling families whom celebrate Christmas that they cannot purchase Christmas trees and gifts and have to find a new way to celebrate Christmas.

For many in Hawaii, New Year's is as big as Christmas and is a big part of Island culture, maybe even bigger than Christmas for some.

J U S T I C E

Plain, simple and easy to see is that the ban on fireworks is unjust.  The very first line of the body of our petition spells it out clearly: it is "a movement that benefits few and disenfranchises the many."  We are not talking about "health," "loudness," and "fires."  That is what non-supporters, of course, will use for ammunition in their protest of our petition.  We are talking about what the people want, in a bigger sense, equality.

Yes.  Not everyone can get what they want, but who decides who does?  In many cases, our government officials are the ones.  The ban did not give a happy medium to all and was done so under the guise of being a safety measure.  The ban gave those "affected" by fireworks what they want, and those many families and children whom celebrate, bond, practice their traditions and culture with fireworks what they did not.  Our petition sets out to PROVE this.  Did the people collectively say they would compromise and accept just firecrackers with a permit?  No, the people DID NOT, at least not enough, and not the majority.  Were we even asked?  Does anyone remember?  Was anyone there to listen to us?  Or were they just listening to those few whom were "angry," paying attention to those few whom misused, not seeing that thousands of people use consumer fireworks safely versus those whom do not?

The ban is selfish.  It is just like someone saying "I hate the smoke and I hate the noise... so I think all of Oahu should be punished.  No one should have their traditions.  No children should play with sparklers.   Retailers shall suffer.  Pop-up owners shall shut down all for ME... me: the one who matters most - the affected!"  Yes, some do not go to those extremes, but the ban itself is an outcome that sure makes it seem that way.

What about the wrong-doers?  The ban punishes many for the actions of a few.  We forget that there are those out there who really should not have fireworks, abuse the privilege and cause danger.  However, there must be a better way than to kill the traditions of all for the idiocy of a few.

How does it feel to know that laws are catalyzed and put in place because of complaints and instances of misuse - or even - because of the personal wants of those with the power to put them in place?  How does it feel to know that these complaints and instances fail to be the majority of the island?  -That laws are giving the complainers what they want and officials are not considering everyone else?  Why is it that a law is not put into place because it is the best choice to supply the people with a happy medium?  Sure, it looks like (and they will probably say) that they did give consideration to others because they put the permit system into place and still allowed firecrackers.  That does not say anything for the lack of actually listening to the opinions of all, not just the complaints.

Yes, I do have concern for those affected by the smoke, but at the same time, I concern myself with the many whom are affected by the laws that disenfranchise them.  I am not hoping for a complete reinstatement of the use of all consumer fireworks but rather a compromise or some kind of happy medium arrived at by listening to the opinions of all the people, not JUST the complainers.

Essentially, why should the law be revised? -Because our officials need to do what is RIGHT. -Because it seems as if no one was thinking before passing a bill that completely illegalized all fireworks except for firecrackers. -Because it seems that personal adjendas are at work. -Because it seems that no one was considerate of those who actually use fireworks--the laws cater to those who do not.

Summary

The ban takes away our freedoms, demoralizes our spirits, stifles and crushes our family, local, and cultural traditions.  It is a blow to retailers and also to the pockets of consumers and may even be self-defeating of its purpose due to the fact that consumers can no longer buy the non-debris-causing versions of firecrackers.  Please help us in our efforts to lift this ban or come to a new agreement with our officials over consumer fireworks.

Our Goals

We want the use of normal consumer fireworks to be reinstated, including such items as fountains, ground bloomers, sparklers, and the safer, less-debris causing non-tube version of firecrackers. I believe we can still make New Years safer while also allowing Oahu residents to have their traditions.

Possible Compromises

(these do not represent the views of the whole, but are suggestions by individuals):

1. Include in the permit system an allowance for normal consumer fireworks including such items as fountains, ground bloomers, sparklers and "non-tube" version of firecrackers. Permit fees for these items should be considerably less than those for the "tube-version" of firecrackers.

2. Place considerable restrictions on fountains: the spray can be no taller than 6 feet (as is the normal limit in other states).

3. Allow such items as morning glories and sparklers to be purchased without permit, while keeping the permit to fuse-lit fireworks.

4. Compromise with the 4th of July. Firecrackers are a Chinese tradition with regards to the New Year and hence are a bit out of place for July 4th.  If at least our New Years traditions are returned, some would be glad to give up firecrackers on July 4th, leaving usage for that holiday limited to sparklers and fountains.

5. Reinstate the use of fireworks without permit while at the same time enabling a natural restriction system by way of placing a tax on them.  -A suggestion that would help increase revenues for the state.

6. Revise the law to allow consumer fireworks with reasonable limits on their purchase, taking into consideration the smoke-causing effects of different items.  Allow larger quantities of those less smoke-causing and smaller quantities of those more smoke-causing.  All the ban did is it concentrated the smoke and noise to the areas of the people whom bought firecrackers (and lots of them) - because that's all there was to buy, and one could buy as many firecrackers as they wanted so long as they paid for permits for them.

7.  Allow at least the smaller, less-dangerous consumer fireworks.

8.  Allow the use of the other consumer fireworks with the purchase of a permit but limit the amount of permits one can buy.

9.  Allow the use of the other consumer fireworks but take into consideration the usage statistics by O'ahu towns and limit the amount of permits one can buy who is a resident in high usage areas.

**If you have suggestions for solutions or revisions to the current law, please post them @UnBanFireworks on twitter and they will be added here.**

**Also, if you were or know someone who was a previous owner of a fireworks pop-up (the various tents around the island selling fireworks) please let us know how the ban has affected your business.**

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Bill 5 and other updates--Last update of the month

      TaraMarie Panoke
      Petition Organizer

      Aloha Supporters,

      Bill 5 was deferred until a later date for the purposes of gathering more research concerning sparkler and fountain use.

      If you are passionate about our fight, please help us submit credible statistics! If you know chemists, or professors or even students in chemical or engineering fields that would be able to help us gather research, please reach out to them and contact us. We are looking for a way to quantify the smoke output of firecrackers, sparklers and fountains.

      Also, we are looking for statisticians or students of statistics to run a simple statistical analysis to predict the purchase volume of firecrackers when sparklers and fountains are available, given the permit limits under Bill 5. We would like to compare them to the purchase volume of firecrackers given the current unlimited permit allowance. If you yourself think you can run this in Excel with PHStat, by all means please contact us.

      In other news, we supporters are coming under attack with what is basically a contest for who is more disenfranchised. The opposition claims that safety is more important than freedom and Councilmember Harimoto basically claims that people with respiratory issues (including himself) take precedence over people disenfranchised by the current law. He says that no matter what, fun cannot match up to safety and that's basically the bottom line.

      So, fireworks not being a necessity and their potential to harm others is grounds for writing off freedom concerns. By that logic, however, no one should have the freedom to drink because drunks can cause car crashes and kill other people. Drinking is not a necessity and yet it's allowed every day of the year... of course with the reasonable compromise that you can't surpass the blood-alcohol limit. Maybe the answer is to legalize fireworks for every day of the year, just limit them to some arbitrary number eh?

      Sarcasm aside, I don't want to participate in the black & white debate where it's one over the other. I believe in compromise with safety and freedom and I strongly feel that the current law is not freedom at all, it's a consolation prize to save face that says "here you go, you can have this for your troubles," under the guise of still preserving freedom.

      Lastly, we are also coming under attack with claims that all we are concerned about is "fun" and, the even more ludicrous: we must be pyromaniacs because we want fireworks use so fervently. You can see my rebuttal to that in my new video blog series I will be starting on YouTube soon, but you all don't need my rebuttal to know that isn't true. For me it's about justice. It's about losing that special and sentimental activity that my family bonded over.

      If you've also got something to say to those attacks, by all means, email them to honolulufireworks@gmail.com

      Unfortunately, the fight to return our freedom to celebrate is getting more serious and is not going to be won by signatures alone. We need to network, ban together, and start hitting them with the exposure of logical fallacies, credible statistics, and public opinion.

      There will not be another significant update or email sent likely until the next hearing date. To you all, I wish a safe and happy Fourth of July. Mahalo to those of you who've given amazing testimony and personal reasons and support for Bill 5.

    2. New Petition Address! Bill 5 Hearing Update!

      TaraMarie Panoke
      Petition Organizer

      Don't forget! Our easy to remember url is now honolulufireworks.com! It will lead you and others straight here to our Change.org petition.

      Tomorrow is the big day for the hearing of Bill 5 which could add sparklers and fountains to our celebrations once more, as early perhaps as this coming New Year! We'd all like a wider array, of course, but it's a step closer!

      If anyone can make it down to Honolulu Hale to testify in support of Bill 5, please contact honolulufireworks@gmail.com or just show up! The hearing is at 9 AM in the Council Chambers on the second floor, but come at 8:30 to sign up to speak early!

      To submit written testimony in support of Bill 5 and to also let officials know how the new law has severely put a damper on your family traditions, cultural traditions, or celebrations in general, please go to

      http://www1.honolulu.gov/council/emailpsed.htm

      All this does, however, is attempt to open your Outlook to send an email, which I know not everyone has. I mean, who uses Outlook anymore? When is anyone going to update our dinosaur of a government website anyway? So to get around that if you do not have Outlook, please just use the following protocols to submit testimony straight from your own email:

      Send to: gmurayama@honolulu.gov
      Subject: Public Safety and Economic Development Committee Testimony
      CC: dching2@honolulu.gov
      BCC: jtachibana@honolulu.gov

      Lastly, I was notified that there was a typo in the link I had sent out last night--I apologize! The link above is correct now. A new link will be sent out shortly to your emails for those of you who cannot view this update for any reason.

      Mahalo again for all your support!

    3. Petition Title has been changed

      TaraMarie Panoke
      Petition Organizer

      This is just a notice that the title has been changed to "Legalize Multiple Consumer Fireworks Products on 'Oahu." The reason for this is that a *specific* demand is far more effective than "Lift the ban." We need to let the authorities know exactly what it is we want.

      Further clarifications will be added over this week such as a list of specific consumer fireworks we want legalized.

      Stay tuned!

    4. New Section Added

      TaraMarie Panoke
      Petition Organizer

      This is just an update to notify everyone that a new section has been added called "Excuses." We need to think of everything they are going to throw at us and prove that such things are not valid in the true scope of the issue.

      Also updated is the compromises section. I have added yet another individual's opinions. Keep them coming!

      Mahalo everyone for the support!

    5. 1ST GOAL REACHED 1000 SIGNATURES! - Important Updates!

      TaraMarie Panoke
      Petition Organizer

      1. Our 1000 initial signatures goal has been reached! Congratulations everyone! This, however, doesn't mean the petition is over. I have set the date for the end of the petition sometime in March. During Spring Break will be the delivery of the petition to the proper officials, though rescheduling may be possible depending on our numbers. Since we have reached 1000 in such a short time, I am going to raise it, creating a second goal. The reason for this is that with such a large population on the island - 950,000+ - We REALLY need to work to make sure that the State knows this law, more than any other reason, is unjust. To avoid conflicts with protesters of our petition, I will not announce the date of the delivery to the state. Don't worry! This doesn't make your hard work have any less of an impact!

      2. I am adding a new section to the "Why this is important" part of our petition catalyzed by the need a non-supporter felt to make his opinions known to me. Mahalo!

    6. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

      TaraMarie Panoke
      Petition Organizer

      OVER 1000 signatures! That's amazing! Thank you soooo much everyone!

    7. Reached 1,000 signatures
    8. 6th Milestone Reached

      TaraMarie Panoke
      Petition Organizer

      Amazing! Wonderful job guys! We *must* make sure that the state knows we are the majority! You guys ROCK and Mahalo for the support!

    9. Reached 750 signatures
    10. 5th Milestone Reached

      TaraMarie Panoke
      Petition Organizer

      Keep it going guys! Mahalo for the support!

    11. Reached 500 signatures
    12. Layout Change

      TaraMarie Panoke
      Petition Organizer

      No essential information of the petition has changed. I have, however, organized the information so it is a bit easier to read by titling each section (but each paragraph remains in the same order). I have also added an estimate gathered from the US Census 2009 with regards to Chinese population numbers as the ban may very well be affecting their culture the most - it is important to make apparent that the ban truly affects real cultural traditions.

    13. 4th Milestone Reached

      TaraMarie Panoke
      Petition Organizer

      Just last night, I was writing out the info for this petition. I came to check on it before bed tonight and find that we've reached 250! Mahalo everyone for the spreading of the petition!

    14. Reached 250 signatures
    15. Important Goals Update

      TaraMarie Panoke
      Petition Organizer

      The "Goals" section has been modified to include possible solutions when compromising with the State officials. Our goal is more likely to be achieved if we have some practical compromises to present to them. Should you have an idea for a solution, please post it to @UnBanFireworks on Twitter so I may add it to the list. Mahalo!

    16. "Online movement hopes to 'UnBan Fireworks'"

      TaraMarie Panoke
      Petition Organizer

      Aloha supporters, we have made the news briefly and I hope it will get the word out about the petition. It has only been a single day and was a miracle to get this coverage. Mahalo to those whom catalyzed this. Click the link below to see the news story. Mahalo!

    17. 3rd Milestone Reached

      TaraMarie Panoke
      Petition Organizer

      I never imagined we would actually reach 100 signatures after the first day. Mahalo for your support!

    18. Reached 100 signatures
    19. 2nd Milestone Reached

      TaraMarie Panoke
      Petition Organizer

      Just 24 hours after being created, we have reached the 50 signature milestone. Mahalo for all your support!

    20. Reached 50 signatures
    21. Update - Description & Progress

      TaraMarie Panoke
      Petition Organizer

      This update is to inform past signers that the description has changed to "on Oahu" as the fireworks ban put into action by the Honolulu City and County only affects the island of Oahu, not the entire State.

      Also, we have achieved the very first signatures landmark: 25 Signatures Reached (with total of 31 currently). This was done in less than 24 hours. Mahalo Everyone! Keep sharing this with people on facebook etc. Thank you for your support.

    22. Reached 25 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Grant Arnold WAIALUA, HI
      • 26 days ago

      It is tradition and part of my culture and personal history for my family.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • israel kamaka WAIANAE, HI
      • 4 months ago

      This is America. The land of the free. We should be Free to use fireworks as we like!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Jeffrey Yamamoto MILILANI, HI
      • 4 months ago

      It's awesome but now I'm sad that they banned it please bring it back

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Garry Lee HONOLULU, HI
      • 4 months ago

      Because it's fun

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Arthur Yamamoto MILILANI, HI
      • 4 months ago

      Because it's not so fun on days you can play fireworks and it kinda sucks

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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