Kyle Thiel, Dickinson
HB 1257, which would have lifted the ban on bottle rocket sales in North Dakota, failed the Senate despite data proving bottle rockets aren't as dangerous as opponents claim. Bottle rockets are legal here, but you can't buy them. Sen. Oehlke and Sen. Sinner helped keep it that way by falsifying information on the Senate floor. Sinner claimed his falsified data came from the Consumer Product Safety Commission which publishes annual reports detailing fireworks injuries.
Oehlke: "[O]ut of 9,000 injuries from fireworks in general nationwide 50 percent of those happened with bottle rockets."
CPSC: The average is 10 percent, the highest being 16 percent in 1997.
Sinner: "According to the CPSC, there are almost 9,000 fireworks injuries every year and a third of those are to the eyes and nearly all of those come from bottle rockets."
CPSC: 17 percent were to the eyes and firecrackers cause the most eye injuries.
Over the past 10 years, bottle rockets account for roughly 300 injuries annually nationwide. All fireworks injure roughly 3 in 100,000 people nationwide. With bottle rockets accounting for 10 percent of injuries, an estimated 2 people are injured each year from bottle rockets in North Dakota, nearly all due to misuse.
Pushing an agenda based on personal preferences is one thing. Massaging data to support a narrative is another. Falsified information by elected officials is reprehensible.
I'm truly sorry that Sen. Sinner's nephew sustained an eye injury when someone misused a bottle rocket. As a third-time victim of drunk driving accidents, I feel sorry for the thousands of innocent bystanders injured or killed by drunk drivers annually. In those cases, we don't consider banning alcohol because of misuse. We don't ban whiskey because people get drunk faster from whiskey than beer. We punish the individual. We punish people and their actions, not products.