Illegal Fireworks Task Force in Hawaiʻi: What should be its priority?
July 9, 2023, 2:30 AM HST
* Updated July 9, 9:30 AM
In the Big Island Now’s most recent poll — which asked “What should be the priority of the new Illegal Fireworks Task Force?” — most votes (21%) thought the new statewide initiative isnʻt necessary and another 17% think some illegal fireworks should be made legal.
But the majority of votes (62%) were spread over eight answers that offer a more aggressive way to enforce or deal with illegal fireworks.
The new task force, which was established in Senate Bill 821 during the 2023 session of the Hawai‘i Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Josh Green in June, is aimed at promoting compliance with the state’s fireworks control laws and ensuring the safety and security of facilities and institutions in the islands against the discharge of illegal fireworks and explosives.
While stories often run rampant on social media about illegal fireworks being set off persistently during the Fourth of July and New Year’s holidays, 191 of the total 889 votes — picked to get rid of the task force; it is not needed.
“Remember the failed war on drugs/DARE,” commented reader David Iggy. “Can’t stop what people want. Just let nature/Darwin take its course.”
A commenter on Facebook said the priority should be “to stop being un-American and allow traditional celebration of both America’s birthday and the Chinese New Year.”
“Repeal the ban of aerial fireworks,” commented Ryan. “There are other ways to create income from lawbreakers. Permits for aerial fireworks is better than permits for firecrackers.”
But those who think the task force should take some kind of action far outnumbered them when combined together.
Third place, with 124 votes (13%), was more aggressive enforcement of illegal fireworks by police. Rounding out the top five results were use explosive-sniffing dogs around shipping containers (118 votes, or 13%) and more aggressive prosecution of illegal fireworks cases (101 votes, or 11%).
Kevin O’Connor commented that education is important when it comes to fireworks and said perhaps communities could organize shared celebrations to pool their resources and have larger, more centralized fireworks shows.
“Instead of the entire neighborhood lighting up, we could come together in our parks and have community gatherings, with the Fire Department managing the fireworks every year on 4th of July and more often on New Year’s Eve,” he said, adding that would reduce the risk of someone who had too much to drink accidentally knocking over a mortar that flies down the street or into a house and burns people or property.
“We can do better for our ‘ohana and our community,” O’Connor said.
Here are the full poll results:
- Get rid of the task forces; it is not needed: 191 (21%).
- Make legal some of the fireworks that are now illegal: 156 (17%).
- More aggressive enforcement of illegal fireworks by police: 124 (13%).
- Use explosive sniffing dogs around shipping containers: 118 (13%).
- More aggressive prosecution of illegal firework cases: 101 (11%).
- Create shipping container inspection program at harbors: 89 (10%).
- Increase the maximum fines for possessing illegal fireworks: 62 (6%).
- Create a hotline to report illegal fireworks: 37 (4%).
- Buy drones to stop illegal fireworks from coming to Hawaiʻi by boat: 11 (1%).
Total votes: 889