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The History of The Fireworks Alliance
 
The history behind the Fireworks Alliance is an example of what can be done when adversity and opportunity combine to address a legacy of regulation and uncertainty. For several decades, fireworks, model rocketry, and amateur science in the United States have been under attack. Starting with the elimination of large firecrackers in the 1960's, the imposition of strict limits on consumer fireworks in the 1970's, and severe fireworks and rocketry regulations in nearly every State, the ability of American citizens to enjoy pyrotechnicsy legally has become a difficult proposition. Despite polls that show a clear majority of Americans support the right to purchase and use legal consumer fireworks, a small but vocal minority has been very effective in regulating or eliminating fireworks in many jurisdictions.

While the ability to enjoy consumer fireworks has been curtailed, the situation is much worse for hobbiests that want build their own fireworks or model rockets. Despite the science, chemistry, and engineering that is required to learn how to build these items, many States have enacted outright bans on building fireworks, and penalties for this activity have increased to draconian levels. Under today's laws, Homer Hickam (the inspiration behind the movie October Sky) would have been sent to prison if he had built the same rockets that were shown in the movie "October Sky". As a matter of fact, nearly half of the discoveries in energetic chemistry in the twentieth century would have resulted in criminal prosecution if they been discovered over the past twenty years.

As a country, Americans have prided themselves on innovation and freedom. However, with the imposition of the "Safe Explosives Act", it is now impossible for a high school student to build a high powered rocket legally. And while many people cite safety concerns in a continuing escalation of regulation, the fact is that fireworks have a better safety record than many everyday activities, including bicycles, football, soccer, baseball, fishing, boating, driving cars, rock climbing, parachuting, water skiing, and over 170 other common activities (based on a CPSC 2005 report).

The board of the Fireworks Alliance had its first meeting on Saturday, April 15, 2006. The board went over a substantial amount of material, and the Fireworks Alliance is going to need a great deal of help from the fireworks and rocketry communities. The first priority is to build our membership, because the larger our membership is, the more congress will listen to us. If you have not joined the Fireworks Alliance, please do so today (its free). Your voice may make the difference between saving fireworks, rocketry, and amateur science for future generations, instead of relegating these activities into the dust bin of history.

 

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