Group seeks to lift bottle rocket banA group of fireworks stand operators that wants to change a recent state law prohibiting the sale of bottle rockets is seeking approval to petition to get a measure on the November ballot to allow sales to people over age 17.
By: By Blake Nicholson, The Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK — A group of fireworks stand operators that wants to change a recent state law prohibiting the sale of bottle rockets is seeking approval to petition to get a measure on the November ballot to allow sales to people over age 17.
Should Secretary of State Al Jaeger approve the petition’s language, the 32 operators behind the measure would need to gather 12,844 signatures to bring the measure to a public vote. The petition signatures would need to be submitted by midnight, Aug. 4, for the measure to be put on the November general election ballot, Jaeger said Wednesday.
The law approved by the Legislature last year forbids the sale and distribution of bottle rockets, though it does not prohibit people from possessing them or shooting them off. It went into effect in August.
“It’s ludicrous to allow the usage of bottle rockets but not the sale of them,” said Lu Ann Moore, a 44-year-old photographer and fireworks stand owner from Barney who is spearheading the effort. “There’s a point where you have to decide where responsibility lies, and people need to take responsibility for themselves.”
Moore said bottle rockets have made up about 15 percent of her sales. Losing those sales will not threaten the viability of her operation but will cut into profits, she said.
Bottineau optometrist Paul Dunderland, who lobbied the Legislature last year during debate on the proposed ban on bottle rocket sales, said Wednesday that the fireworks likely would end up in the hands of children if adults could buy them. He also said bottle rockets are dangerous no matter the age of the person shooting them off.
“The nature of those fireworks is unpredictable and there could still be serious eye injuries resulting from their use,” he said. “Even in my small community of 2,400 people, there have been three boys (in recent years) that have sustained blinding eye injuries that have significantly impacted the quality of their life.”
The petition was submitted Tuesday.