Restricting dangerous fireworks vs. smoking bans
Two days ago, I advocated changing Indiana's fireworks law to make it illegal to set off fireworks that launch into the air and explode. My reasoning was that you can do as you please so long as you do not cause harm or recklessly endanger another person or his property. Yet in the past, I have strenuously opposed bans on smoking in so-called "public places." (Actually private property.)
So what is the difference between allowing smoking in so-called "public places" and forbidding the use of fireworks that launch into the air and explode on someone's private property?
The difference is choice. Someone who does not want to be around cigarette smoke can choose not to go to a restaurant, bar, grocery store or sports arena that allows smoking. (Government buildings are an entirely different story.) Someone can choose not to be employed by that same restaurant, bar, grocery store or sports arena if he does not want to work next to people who smoke.
People cannot choose whether to be around fireworks that launch into the air and explode, if those fireworks are going off next to their home. People cannot choose whether or not their home and property is endangered, especially during drought conditions. Even if we leave our homes and go elsewhere during the Fourth of July weekend, our property cannot go with us and can still be damaged or destroyed by an errant flying explosive.
The issue is consent. Someone who goes to a so-called "public place" that allows smoking consents to being exposed to secondhand smoke. Someone who must watch helplessly as explosives go off above their house does not consent to having their property and safety threatened. The Republican legislature (which banned smoking in so-called "public places") has it exactly wrong.