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Fri, July 19

Fireworks bill goes down; lawmakers calls it 'the wussification of America'

PHOENIX -- Forget setting off aerial fireworks and blowing stuff up in your back yard this July 4th.

On a 15-14 vote the Senate on Thursday killed legislation which would have expanded the kinds of things Arizonans can legally light up.

That means no firecrackers. It also means no "keg mortars' loaded with multiple charges that shoot up to 100 feet in the air, both of which would have been legalized by HB 2398.

The defeat came over the objections of Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, who took a swipe at foes.

"I don't know what the best PC way to say this is,' he said, "It just is ... the wussification of America.'

Smith said people complain that fireworks wake up their children and their pets.

"Well, it's called the Fourth of July,' he argued.

"I mean, if you don't like fireworks on the Fourth of July or New Year's, go to another country.'

Arizona has tiptoed into the area of consumer fireworks.

Even sparklers were not legal until six years ago. Current law allows Arizonans to also ahve smoke snakes, fountains and ground spinners.

But anything that explodes or launches is prohibited.

The legislation drew opposition from Jim Ford, deputy fire marshal for Scottsdale and a member of the state Fire Safety Committee. He said expanding what's allowable is likely to lead to more accidents and more fires.

But Mike Williams, who lobbies for TNT Fireworks, said there is no evidence of any fires that have been started by what was made legal since 2010.

Gov. Doug Ducey was noncommittal when asked about the issue earlier this year.

"We have incredible fire concerns,' the governor said. But Ducey said he also is a big believer in personal freedom.

"I want people to have fun,' the governor said. "And there's nothing more fun than safely blowing things up on the Fourth of July.'

On Twitter: @azcapmedia

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