Most fireworks are illegal in my state. Anything other than a hand held sparkler is strictly verboten. It is illegal to use “exploding and/or flying fireworks in Florida, which include: shells and mortars, multiple tube devices, Roman candles, rockets and firecrackers.”

Someone forgot to tell the idiots in my neighborhood.

It happens every year, and not just on the 4th of July. New Year's Eve, Labor Day and even Christmas have become excuses to light up the sky, creating our own neighborhood rendition of Downtown Fallujah Saturday Night. And the displays seem to get bigger every year.

I'm not really “anti-firework”, although I do think they should be used responsibly in safe environments. The unrelenting audial assault of the home grown amateur exhibition is unfair for neighborhood pets as well as vets suffering from PTSD. Perhaps I am overly sensitive since a house my parents lived in for years was gutted by fire thanks to a moron neighbor using fireworks (my parents had sold it the year prior). Still, I am struck that the very existence of these rockets and explosive devices, despite their being banned for use in our state, is an interesting parallel to the growing fight calling for the banning of some or all guns.

Regular reviewers of the Cluttered Desk (sick puppies that you are) will be aware of my conservative bent, and will not be surprised by my position on guns. Call me a 2nd Amendment kind of guy – one who believes proposed gun controls in this world, like our ill-fated fireworks laws, simply won't work. We already have gun control laws in this nation, and they are an abject failure. Chicago and Washington, DC have some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, yet have some of the highest gun related crime rates. Maryland has enacted tough gun control laws, yet Baltimore has erupted as a high crime area; much of it gun related. Schools and community centers, locations for a number of fairly recent mass shootings, are, by law, “gun free zones”. And Florida law, banning concealed weapon permit holders from carrying weapons in a bar, ensured that there could be no one armed for defense last month when a crazed madman entered the Pulse Lounge in Orlando.

Internationally I would point out that all the weapons used in the recent attacks on Paris were illegal in that country. That did not prevent their use, however.

No, just as with fireworks and drugs, simply making guns' illegal will not eliminate their availability or use. Perhaps we should focus on our societal problems; our growing isolation from normal human interaction, and our apparent capitulation to teaching right from wrong. Something certainly has changed with the way people relate and how we feel about others. When I was growing up guns were everywhere, including gun racks in cars in the high school parking lot. We just didn't use them against others – at least not with the frequency we see today.

That same focus on self-gratification; the lack of concern displayed for the safety and comfort of others, is evidenced in our neighborhood on every major holiday. The underlying oblivion reflects the common core of our problems today.

Ironically, when it comes to guns, responsible gun owners are much better at following the law than their firework launching comrades. In my county I am not able to discharge my weapon whenever I feel like it. I can only fire my weapon in self-defense or at a licensed firing range. Unlike my fireworks brethren, I do not step into the street after a long day of drinking and fire off hundreds of celebratory rounds to commemorate my freedom.

On July 3rd, my wife saw an amusing meme on Facebook. It said, “Somewhere in our country, there exists at least one person who does not realize this is their last day with all ten fingers”. It is an appropriate message, but likely didn't stop anybody from pursuing this explosive avocation. If laws don't stop some people, neither will common sense.

Laws alone simply will not solve all of our problems. They haven't stopped the flow of narcotics or the use of explosive fireworks. They certainly will not remove guns from the population – at least the part of the population the rest of us should be concerned about. For me, on this Independence Day week, it is more about personal accountability and responsibility. We don't have a gun problem, or a fireworks problem, or even a drug problem. We have a people problem, and a society that overlooks their accountability to others is one that must first address its underlying issues.

It is really not that different from workers' comp. In the ongoing discussions surrounding the National Conversation, many of the issues brought up have been cultural in their nature. Elements of our Dallas group spoke out against the appearance of addressing these cultural issues; but address them we must. We can legislate improvements within our industry, but an underlying cultural shift will likely also be needed to address the changing societal expectations placed upon our industry. Understanding our accountability to others will be paramount if new legislative endeavors are to be successful.

After all, in workers' comp, analogous to fireworks, drugs and guns, laws alone simply will not solve all our problems.

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