Florida bill aims to legalize larger fireworks, launching safety concerns to new heights

If passed, the law would allow rockets and mortars

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - More bang for the buck. That is the push by some Florida lawmakers when it comes to the fireworks residents can purchase legally.

As the law stands, only fireworks that stay on the ground and do not explode are legal. Those are the fireworks that residents such as Lenny Franzen of Greenacres have become accustomed to purchasing for celebrations.
"Basically my kids enjoy it. So we're going to just get some of the little stuff to make them happy," said Franzen.

What Franzen will not find are the big fireworks like rockets or mortars.    

"We have to tell them that there's nothing here and that they sell them in other states," said Ellie Encarnacion of TNT Fireworks.

State Representative Matt Gaetz wants to legalize the fireworks. The idea behind House Bill 4005, of which he is a co-sponsor, is to prevent Florida from losing potential sales to neighboring states.

"I feel like it would bring more money into the economy because they're so expensive and everyone wants them," said Encarnacion.

But not everyone agrees with lifting the ban.

"The more fireworks that are available, the more that are sold, the more that are out there, the greater the potential of someone getting hurt," said Officer James Moore of the West Palm Beach Bomb Squad Unit.

Officer Moore said thousands of people get hurt every year from fireworks.

He does not even like the little, ground stuff that is currently legal, let alone the big rockets the new bill could legalize.

"Once it leaves the ground, there's no control of it. It could land on a house, catch a house on fire, can hit someone in the face," said Officer Moore.

Franzen said he is sticking to what is currently legal and thinks the current ban should stick.

"With houses right next to each other and some people not having the best frame of mind, it gets a little scary," said Franzen.

People can buy rockets and mortars in Florida, but must sign a pledge that they will not fire them off in the state.

The bill is set to be taken up in the 2014 legislative session.

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