California Cuts July 4 Losses
“A step in the right direction, but not a big enough one!” That is the conclusion drawn upon California’s new statewide law controlling the use of dangerous fireworks as the personal and property damage cost of July 4, 1940, is totaled.
For the first time in the Golden State’s history, the use of fireworks was regulated this year by a law enacted by the state legislature. But, as bad been predicted by prevention officials, a single amendment to an otherwise “safe and sane” bill resulted in the injury of 160 children in Los Angeles alone. The amendment passed allowed the sale of “small” firecrackers, although the bili itself outlawed most dangerous fireworks, such as Roman candles, sky rockets, torpedoes, chasers, snake-nests, cherry bombs, etc.
The result of this partial regulation clearly shows the facts. Fires, usually caused by the banned articles, were decreased to a great extent, but receiving hospital attendants and doctors treated their usual number of Independence Day casualties. Torn fingers, burned faces, eye injuries and serious cuts from blown-up cans and bottles were the common injuries of children between the ages of seven to twelve years.
The majority of these personal accidents were caused by the so-called “safe” firecrackers. The law defines these as firecrackers under two inches in length, 3/8-incb in diameter and containing twelve grains of explosives.
In most of the large cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, all firecracket’s are illegal. But neighboring vicinities put up stands just outside the city limits which sell the articles, and they are “bootlegged” into the city, where apprehension of all lawbreakers is physically impossible.
Taking the place of the home-firework displays were supervised public shows, of which Los Angeles alone had ten, the largest of which, sponsored by the American Legion, drew 70,000 to the Memorial Coliseum.
That the trend thorughout the entire United States is toward a safe and sane Fourth is shown in that nine states: New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey, Iowa, Delaware, Indiana, Utah and West Virginia have abolished all but supervised public displays. California, Illinois and Wisconsin have laws partially governing the use of fireworks. Before the enactment of these laws in 1939, California, New York and Pennsylvania led the nation in Fourth of July injuries.