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The New Terrorist Threat: Fireworks

With the passage of another Fourth of July weekend, Americans can breathe a sigh of relief now that the threat has passed.

Oh, did you think we were scared of an impending ISIS or ISIS-inspired attack? Unlike local police departments, the media and the FBI, we’re not scared of terror attacks. We’re afraid of the true danger over fourth of July weekend: fireworks.

(Actually, we’re not. Like terrorism generally, fireworks don’t kill that many Americans per capita.)

But compared to terrorists--who didn’t strike America this weekend--fireworks did cause quite a bit of damage. A drunk man tried to detonate a firework from his head. It didn’t work and he died at the scene, the first death since Maine legalized fireworks two years ago. Over 800 acres and one home burned in Washington state after fireworks started a fire. Two more homes were damaged in Sacramento, California. And 9 people were injured in Vail, Colorado. Oh yeah, and a New York football Giant hurt his hands in a firework accident.

Want to find more? Search the word “fireworks” on Google News the day after the Fourth of July. These were from the first page alone.

So, be aware, fireworks are the new al Qaeda.

More accurately, they’re as deadly to Americans as terrorism. According to an article on the National Fire Protection Association, “in 2011, fireworks caused an estimated 17,800 reported fires, including 1,200 total structure fires, 400 vehicle fires, and 16,300 outside and other fires. These fires resulted in an estimated eight reported civilian deaths, 40 civilian injuries and $32 million in direct property damage.” An additional 15,000 people were injured.

Now, you should always take statistics from an interest group with a grain of salt. But other groups support this finding. The Consumer Products Safety Commission reported that six people died in 2012 and eight more in 2013 from fireworks. The reports also detail exactly who and how they died. The CPSC found more deaths, 11 total, in 2011 than the NFPA.

Since 9/11, using low estimates, about eighty to one hundred people have died from fireworks. In the same time, 74 people have died from terrorism. So you’re more likely to die from fireworks than terrorism. (We should note out that Islamic extremists were only responsible for one third of domestic terrorist attacks.) That’s not even mentioning injuries and property damage.

Honestly, I think terrorists would be more successful if they lobbied for securing gun rights, selling more fireworks, and increasing the speed limit. Who needs terrorists when Americans are content with killing themselves? (For anyone about to make a “fireworks equal freedom” argument, tell that to my neighbors who’ve been popping fireworks until one in the morning all week.)

Being serious, it just seems a shame that dozens of people across the country are now homeless because people set off fireworks unsafely, while the country’s news channels and politicians worry needlessly about terrorism.