An AP article relates a story concerning how a six year old boy was burned while playing with a novelty lighter, and also how over 5,000 fires per year are started by children under five years old. A good little story, but just brims with questions over the background over this bill. Who came up with the idea? When did they come up with it? And a bunch of others come to mind. What is a novelty lighter, and why should their sale be banned?
A novelty lighter is one of those cheap lighters, cheap as in cheaply made, not cost, that you find on just about any C store sales counter. They come in the full range of figures, ranging from simple designs like a baseball bat, all the way to risqué figures such as naked women. A lot of people don’t like them, and I can’t say as I blame them. Most of them are just another piece of crap you toss money away on. many of them don’t have the same safety features that you’d find on a name brand lighter, like a Bic® has.
But why should they be banned? I can see where the temptation is coming from. They are indeed attractive to little ones. Colorful, and shaped like some of the toys they play with, I can see where they might want to play with one, which would have disastrous consequences, i.e. house fires and such. But should they be banned? You’ve probably already figured out that I don’t support the action, so you already know that my answer is NO!
I believe the ban should not have been made law for a few different reasons, but let’s look at the history behind the idea of the ban. Maine may have been the first STATE to ban the sale of novelty lighters, but is not the first ban. Several bans exist around the country at the community and county level in many jurisdictions.
El Cajon, California was the second city to pass a ban, which has been in effect since September of last year. (’07) Following along on the boot heels of National City, it is still too early to obtain any concrete data to determine whether the ban has had any impact on either of those two cities arson statistics concerning juvenile involvement. Will the ban help reduce fires? It may, but then again, it may not. The issue at question is not fire prevention, but should the lighters be banned. The European Union, (EU) banned the sale of these novelties in 1997, so after a decade of experience, we should be able to tell if an impact has been made from their records. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any statistics for the EU as a whole for that time frame. Different country statistics indicate that the numbers of fires started by juveniles has increased by some percentage points, so it seems that banning the lighters did not accomplish what the ban was supposed to do. Perhaps the number for fires started by lighters has substantially dropped, but as yet I haven’t come across those figures.
When I do, I’ll be sure to update and see whether the bans are really worth having in place as legislation. But why am I against the ban? It all boils down to something called responsibility. I do not have a problem with lighters that look like toys. I know that they are not toys. Since they are only sold to adults in this state, the adults should realize that they are not toys. Well, most of them should. I’ve seen some that I would have doubts about, but that’s a whole other issue.
Parents should be held responsible for their child’s actions. If a parent realizes that consequences are to be had for the way their child acts, the parent would more than likely take better efforts to train the child in proper behavior, right? Most people I know feel that way, even some who tend to be liberal. It’s a parent kinda thing. We raise our kids the best we can, and along the way try to teach them how to behave.
Now, the problem develops here that kids are going to do exactly what you don’t want them to do the first time you turn your back to them. If you have kids, you know exactly what I mean. So why do so many fires start by children playing with matches or lighters? Because little kids who do not know better find them laying around. They know they are not supposed to play with them, and that increases the desire to play with them. What comes to mind here is that TV steak sauce ad where a bunch of guys are cooking steak at a tailgate party. The cook drops some sauce on the grill, looks around and licks the spill off of the hot grill. You know the outcome.
But it is our responsibility to teach our children. Banning novelty lighters will not do that. instead, it places your responsibility onto somebody else’s shoulders, namely the state. In case you are not aware, that is one of the basic precepts of Socialism, lack of personal responsibility. Banning a lighter is not going to reduce the aspect of juvenile fire problems. They will find alternative fire starters.
So let’s take a look at this AP article and see what’s not to like about the story. The story starts out by stating that a boy, Shane St. Pierre, while in a southern Maine store getting sandwiches with his mother picked up a novelty lighter that looked like a toy baseball bat. Of course, the boy played with it and subsequently seared his eyebrow and burned his skin. No big surprise there, a little kid plays with fire and gets burned. I think it’s one of the laws of nature. There is absolutely no reason for a six year old to be playing with a lighter.
So where was the child when this affair took place? According to the AP article, the store was in southern Maine, which of course it wasn’t. it was actually at an unnamed store in Livermore. I’d call that western Maine in my atlas. Well, he and his mother were in the store to pick up some sandwich’s. this tells me it was a convenience type of store. All of those stores have their lighter displays up on a counter where adults will be conned into buying them. Hard to get to by a six year old I would think. Especially one with his mother. Unless she wasn’t there. So where was she when this little kid picked up the lighter? Was she ignoring her child in a public place where almost anything could have happened to him?
If it were my child, I would have been paying close attention just for that reason. The mother should have known better. And she probably did, since her husband, Norm St. Pierre is the fire chief for West Paris. Who also happens to be the President of the National Association Of Fire Marshalls. Which happens to be an organization driving a nationwide initiative to get the lighters banned. Seems kind of odd to me that the six year old child of a person in that position should be playing with a lighter. Especially in a C store with no mother around paying attention to him.
Another thing that bothers me about this type of legislation is that it was passed as an emergency law, meaning that there was no public debate, and no time to appeal or seek redress from its affects. In many places around the world where Socialism is the way of life, these sorts of thing are not only common, they are to be expected. Freedom is on the endangered species list, and states such as Maine and California are leading us down the path towards government domination.
I firmly believe that one of the key components of democracy and its success is the aspect of personal responsibility. Socialism cannot survive where any sense of that responsibility exists. When laws are passed removing the burden of personal responsibility from the individual and places it upon the shoulders of government through regulation, we lose a piece of that freedom. Eventually, we become blind to that responsibility and learn that it is indeed easier to let somebody else shoulder the blame. And eventually, we become a slave to our servants.
And a bit of news…..