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Illinois needs revenue from the sale of fireworks

Other states permit the sale of fireworks so why not cash-strapped Illinois?

Opinion

July 12th, 2017 10:16 AM

Fireworks in Oak Park

By Arlene Jones

Columnist

I swear the only thing missing from the Battle of July 3rd & 4th 2017 fireworks display in my neighborhood was Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture." As I sat on my balcony to watch the show (and make sure my neighbors didn't burn my house down), I was comforted in knowing that Illinois bans fireworks sales (LOL — my most facetious voice ever).

I was curious as to why this state, surrounded by states that do permit the sale of fireworks, is the oddball of the lot. Iowa just started allowing it as of this past May. So Illinois is either intent on maintaining the moral high ground in the region or we're fools watching as millions of dollars and taxes are spent by Illinois residents in neighboring states.

Considering that this state has finally gotten a budget after three years without one, following a "pissing contest" between Speaker of the House Mike Madigan and Governor Bruce Rauner, it's not hard to assume we're being played for fools. The amount and volume of the stuff I saw go off in an eight-block radius had to cost at least $50,000, maybe more. This wasn't the cheap stuff but the ones that explode several times once airborne. Then there was what I call the sonic boom shots that exploded into a million pieces of color and light while sounding like a cannon being shot.

I even experienced a type of "call and response" during the display as two competing individuals lit their fireworks. Boom-boom went one followed by boom-boom-boom. Then boom-boom-boom followed by boom-boom-boom-boom. As I watched and listened, I was grateful that the booming didn't involve gunshots.

For the most part, those who lit their fireworks near me didn't set anything ablaze. And they did clean up pretty much after themselves. When I asked if they had a hose at the ready in case something went wrong, they told me that was a good idea.

One neighbor's friend must have gone to the 24-hour firework store as he came speeding up, parked his car and opened his trunk. The kids squealed in delight and soon the sound of at least 200 successive firecrackers going off soon began. The man must have lit the entire package as the smoke and smell of gunpowder filled the air and lingered near the ground. The only time I got really nervous was when the same man allowed a kid of around 10 years old to hold one of those Roman Candle-type devices and the child aimed it up in the air and it went off near the telephone pole's wires and electrical lines.

I don't know how much money Illinois and the city of Chicago looses by not allowing the sale of fireworks. But when all you have to do is take a 20-minute drive to Hammond, Indiana to purchase the stuff, perhaps it's time to rethink the ban — especially when every state that surrounds Illinois allows the sale of them.

Illinois' highfalutin' ban isn't working and hasn't worked in decades. The only thing happening is that Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri and now Iowa are getting our money and subsequent tax dollars. This broke state only seems come up with taxes that send people scurrying away; it's time to sell and tax what people are buying willingly as an unneeded luxury. That, along with having them buy a firework permit and restricting the amount they're allowed to purchase in a 30-day time period will allow tax dollars to flow into Illinois' coffers at a time when this state needs every dime it can get.