Being the anniversary of our independence — and the beginning of the war by which we won it — today has become a traditional day for content creators to be patriotic, to speak about guns, freedom, and gratitude for our country.
To that end, I would like to participate in my own way. As an American, a former service-member, and a gun-owner, I can think of nothing more patriotic than wishing for the further legal restriction and regulation of fireworks.
I am not being ironic. Bear with me.
Fireworks are exceptionally dangerous. Every year, people lose their lives or their hands to them, often not even by their own stupidity. Fireworks are high-explosives, and explosives are inherently dangerous.
But so are firearms, which — aside from personal self-protection — are a deterrent against a tyrannical state. How much of a deterrent is difficult to gauge, but we know that it is something that the government is aware of, and influences their thinking on certain domestic policy issues. Gun confiscations, for example, are a political non-starter, not because there is no demographic base of support for the policy, but because the state knows that to implement such a policy without some kind of slow build-up would mean violence.
And neither guns nor fireworks are as dangerous as cars. Cars kill thousands every year, and injure many thousands more. And what do we have cars for? Convenience? They allow us to travel slightly faster — nothing that public transportation or telecommuting in combination could not make up for. Mandatory 25mph governors on all vehicles could reduce traffic fatalities to zero overnight, and yet we do not do this. Why?
Because some things are worth risk. Sometimes, even convenience is worth risk, but of much greater value is the protective value of firearms, or the sheer enjoyment of shooting them.
So why ban fireworks?
The fourth of July is a celebration of independence from a tyrannical government. Whether or not Britain at that time truly was tyrannical or not is almost irrelevant to the celebration of the spirit of freedom, which balked at even marginal tax impositions. This rebellious spirit is the foundation of our independence, and a central component of the American identity.
But how can we express this spirit if fireworks are legal?
The only thing more American than shooting off fireworks legally on the anniversary of our defiance of authority is shooting fireworks off illegally.
I am not advocating breaking the law, or doing anything dangerous or illegal (I would never do such a terrible thing). I am merely observing that it is admirable and more American to shoot off illegal fireworks than legal ones.
Today, more and more things are controlled. Social media is increasingly regulated and curated, less free and more censored. Our privacy is diminishing as government and corporate surveillance becomes more advanced and more disturbingly intimate. They know what we say, when we say it, and who we say it to. They know what we buy. They know what we drive. They know our hobbies, based largely on what we buy and whether our phone GPS registers more time at the gun range or the golf range. They know our porn habits.
And of course — like cars and guns — fireworks are becoming more regulated. They are outright illegal in many places.
America is not as it once was. Its values, its people, it culture, and its sense of self, all of these have changed. Things once considered “rights” have now become heavily regulated “privileges,” removed by the state seemingly on a whim. Some lines cannot be crossed yet (such as gun-confiscation), but the state is towing the line as much as they can get away with. Eventually, “normal” will shift, and the ratcheting away of liberty will advance.
Given the state of things, why should participating in the celebration of our country’s freedom be legal?
America is not the land of the free and the home of the brave. It hasn’t been for a few decades now. But it can be again. It can become both brave and free when its citizens take their freedoms, expressing a spirit of courage and independence in defiance of a controlling government. After all, how else could such a spirit be expressed, even in theory?
Fireworks should be outlawed, not so that Americans might be made less free, but so that the true spirit of the American war of independence which gave us our freedom might be retained in its character, and not merely as a historical abstraction. They should be illegal because only in defiance of arbitrary law can we know that we truly are free.
With that, I wish everyone a happy 4th of July. Have fun, stay safe, and if you decide to play outlawed tunes out of outlawed pipes, be sure to stay clear of the redcoats.