The debate over fireworks laws gets input from gubernatorial candidates
Gillespie supports retailers who say they are losing business to other states
The debate about fireworks laws in the Commonwealth continues. Gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie says making certain fireworks illegal hurts business, but WSLS also spoke with a doctor who says he already deals with injuries from fireworks every year, and if the law changes, that could mean more injuries.
Dr. Jack Perkins at Roanoke Memorial Hospital says there's no doubt bigger fireworks can cause bigger injuries, but West Virginia allows them, and fireworks dealers in Roanoke say many of their customers are making the one hour trip across the border. And that trip is cutting profits for some people in half.
Holly Rindorf is working the TNT stand in the Hunting Hills shopping center this year, but she says, business is slow.
"A couple years ago, on July 3rd, our tent would pretty much be wiped out... but what you see right now, this is quite a bit big inventory for this time of year," said Rindorf.
Rindorf says, that's because in the last few years, West Virginia changed its laws to allow the sale of bigger fireworks, and her customers are headed there instead. In Virginia, fireworks are not allowed to explode, shoot up in the air, or travel along the ground.
"We've had numerous clientele come in asking us if we had some of the "good stuff", and you know they'll walk out and leave and go to other states to make their purchases I assume," said Rindorf.
This weekend, fireworks retailers like Rindorf got a message of support from Ed Gillespie in a YouTube video.
"In Virginia we're missing out on being able to create thousands of jobs and tens of millions of dollars," said Gillespie.
But his opponent, Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, responded through his press secretary saying "Dr. Northam likes fireworks as much as anyone, but he also wants to make sure you can afford health care in case you accidentally blow your hand off with one."
Dr. Perkins says, that's a legitimate concern, and he says, more times than not, the victims are children.
"Going to be a lot of hand injuries, so loss of digits or tip of a digit, something like that. Unfortunately also see some eye injuries as well, either from heat exposure or from foreign material going into the eye," said Perkins.
But Rindorf argues, people are going to get the fireworks anyway, so for businesses like hers to stay competitive, she says the laws should be changed.
Rindorf says, the good news is if you do want to get some last minute legal fireworks, she has plenty in stock and will be open all day on the 4th.
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