Lee Cataluna: Time for a new attack on illegal fireworks
Every year at this time when the stories about illegal fireworks come out, so many online comments brag about everyone knowing where to buy this stuff.
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Every year at this time, the shameful proliferation of illegal explosives in Hawaii becomes painfully obvious, as does local law enforcement’s inability to do anything about it and lawmakers’ unwillingness to reign in any pyromaniac’s delirious fun.
What is left are unhelpful tips about turning on the air conditioning to filter smoke and keeping nervous dogs indoors to keep them from going nuts and running away when the thunderous explosives light up the skies. Bring out the Valium, folks. Think about staying in a hotel. Put Grandpa in a ThunderShirt. Just deal with it, and in a month or so, you can complain about other things.
Worse yet is the official suggestion that enforcement relies on civilians and that it is up to neighbors being willing to bust neighbors. Oh, and you can’t just call the police on the folks next door setting fire to the grass and raining sparks down on the rooftop. Please also furnish video evidence, preferably video that clearly shows the faces
of the people as they actually bring flame to fuse. How many fed-up neighbors have called and called only to be told, “Yeah, sorry. We cannot do nothing unless we actually witness the crime.”
Meanwhile, on the docks, nobody knows anything, nobody sees anything, stuff is being randomly searched all the time and besides, it’s easy to hide this stuff in a box marked “Toys, rice and other stuff that isn’t
So much for security at international ports of entry. This stuff gets to Hawaii from somewhere, but the official word is always nah, it’s a mystery.
The time for law enforcement to get involved isn’t when the explosives are in the gleeful hands of untrained civilians and reckless uncles. It’s too late to take action if the crime is defined as the actual ignition of an illegal explosive, which takes less than a minute from start to finish. And clearly, the will does not exist to comb through every cargo container at the docks, which, when you think about it, is kind of scary.
So maybe the time to stop the crime is at the point of sale. Every year at this time when the stories about illegal fireworks come out, so many online comments brag about
everyone knowing where to buy this stuff.
Bring on the feds. Bring on ATF. Bring on Kenji Price. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has become the cleanup crew in Hawaii, taking care of business that local law enforcement can’t handle. The feds had to take down Louis and Katherine Kealoha. The feds had to take on the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office and HART. The feds had to step in and assure the community that something was being done to stop the
recent wave of violent crimes on Oahu. Maybe federal agents can make a bunch of arrests of the middlemen, the distribution chain that takes the illegal explosives from the point of mysterious origin to the hands of neighborhood fire starters. Maybe it takes that level of seriousness and ambition to get past the entanglements of tradition, relationships and nostalgia that keep this an annual problem.