Independence Day and the right to fireworks

I’m looking forward to a nice relaxing Independence Day weekend. Apart from the normal ragging I’ll receive for being an Englishman and therefore embodiment of the “losing side”, it is a chance to relax with family, watch the patriotic displays, and let off some fireworks with friends who have property “out in the country”.

This brings me to the subject of my post.  As a Brit who has enjoyed his dose of fireworks on Guy Fawkes Night (aka Bonfire Night, November 5th) I am quite partial to a bit of peacefully explosive fun, and enjoy watching my hard earned money whooshing into the atmosphere and brightening the night sky.  It took me a while to get used to the idea of letting off fireworks in warm, dry, summery conditions as opposed to the usual battle of trying to keep fuses dry in a freezing cold, rain filled gale but I can adapt, and I have.  So I’ve been out to buy fireworks in Virginia and discovered something surprising, one can’t buy rockets or roman candles in Virginia!

Here, let me repeat that in a bold quotation…

One can’t buy rockets or roman candles in Virginia!

This absolutely amazed me because after all this is the state that helped form the nation and believes firmly in its patriotic rights.  What could be more patriotic than fireworks on Independence Day?  So I’ve settled for what is legally allowed, a quiet selection of gently showering garden fireworks shaped like hand grenades and turtles!  It just doesn’t seem right not to have rockets, although it does get so dry here in the summer that the risk of fire from rogue rockets is real I suppose.

I know Tony Blair and the new Labour nanny state banned bangers, and restricted access to the more cheaply produced and downright dangerous imported fireworks, but even they knew that having fireworks without rockets and roman candles just isn’t the same.

I found myself comparing rockets with guns, after all this is America! In my investigation of the laws regarding guns I found these fascinating facts on the Virginia State Police website:

  • Are firearms registered in Virginia?
    With the exception of machine guns, firearms are not registered in Virginia.
  • What is the legal age to purchase or possess a firearm?
    A person must be at least 18 years of age to purchase a rifle or shotgun. To purchase a handgun from a licensed firearms dealer, you must be at least 21 years of age, pursuant to federal law.
  • Can handguns be carried concealed in Virginia?
    Yes, but a permit is required.  To get a permit you must complete form SP-248 “Application for Concealed Handgun Permit”, provide proof of demonstrated competence with a handgun by incudling a photocopy of a course certificate from an instructor, school, club, organization, or group that conducted or taught such course or classes, and a $10 fee.

For more interesting facts I recommend this article on the History and Trivia on Guns in Virginia from The Virginian-Pilot.

Have a happy and safe Independence Day!


One comment

  1. uphilldowndale · July 4, 2008

    LOL, can we put some rockets and ‘ripraps’ the post to you!?
    I had a similar ‘compare and contrast’ moment at a Bruce Springsteen concert in New York, where our host could not by his guests beers, without taking one of us with him to the bar; as one person was not allowed to buy more than four beers in a single transaction, sigh.
    Happy holiday

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