Lawmakers: After a noisy start to the new year, it’s time to crack down on illegal aerials

(Image: Angel Hernandez/Instagram)
(Image: Angel Hernandez/Instagram)
Updated: Jan. 1, 2019 at 9:29 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The loud booms and bright lights seen across Oahu on New Year’s Eve are once again sparking the debate over illegal aerials.

Some lawmakers say they are looking at ways to step up enforcement since so many are ignoring the laws.

Oahu banned aerial fireworks eight years ago, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell them from the huge amateur displays set off as Oahu rang in 2019.

“It;s been ridiculous,” said state Rep. Sharon Har. “It’s not just New Year’s Eve. It;s every holiday and it’s becoming so pervasive now to the point where it has negatively affected so many residents' quality of life.”

Har says over the years, she has received numerous complaints about illegal aerial fireworks.

Laws have been passed with both civil and criminal penalties, but she says they’re not enough.

[Read more: Huge pyrotechnic displays (most with illegal fireworks) ring in the new year]

“We have the laws on the books, (but) the problem remains enforcement,” she said. “So we have to figure out more ways in giving law enforcement the tools they need to make the arrests.”

She added she’s working on legislation that will hold property owners more accountable.

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“If a property owner knowingly allows a perpetrator to engage in illegal activity, including shooting off illegal fireworks on his property, then that person too will be held liable,” she said.

But not everyone supports new laws.

Patrick Lee, whose family lives in Alewa Heights, says there are more urgent issues facing the state.

“They should take care of the laws that they already have in place,” he said. “It’s not regulations that are going to change it, it’s a mindset.”

Lee says if lawmakers really want to help control the problems, they need to focus on Hawaii’s ports.

“How do they get here?” he said. “I can’t get on a plane with a pencil but the fireworks are coming here in containers.”

Some have even argued to make the fireworks legal, and require permits or even add a tax.

But fire officials say aerials are banned for a reason.

“It’s because the aerials are unpredictable,” said Fire Capt. Scot Seguirant. “It’s frustrating because its all preventable, especially when somebody gets hurt or somebody’s home catches on fire.”

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