The average Kiwi doesn't have ready access to a gun, and for good reason. If the spotty-faced, good for nothing "yoof" who lives down your street could easily step into a supermarket and buy a handgun and a few dozen rounds of ammunition along with their beer and fags, all hell would break loose.
Guns and rifles are heavily restricted. You need a licence before you can secure yourself one, and fooling around with them for a bit of a laugh with your mates will land you in mighty serious trouble. And then along comes November. Once a year, a veritable arsenal of munitions becomes available for purchase across the counter and you don't need a licence to buy any of it.
You don't even need to be legally sane. You just have to front up with your money, look old enough, and poke a finger at the incendiary device of your choice.
It's Guy Fawkes, of course. And for the price of the latest Motorhead CD, the spotty-faced yoof down your way can procure enough firepower to mount a small urban offensive. When will this lunacy stop?
Celebrating Guy Fawkes makes as much sense as legalising Class A drugs to commemorate the Opium Wars.
How many more homes need to be burned to the ground, animals maimed and killed, people injured, and property destroyed before common sense will prevail and we once and for all ban the things outright.
We are at great pains to get juvenile delinquents into line. We ban their aerosol paint cans so they can't graffiti our walls. We take away their cars so they can't donut themselves into oblivion. There's a call to raise both the drinking age and the driving age.
So why, for pity's sake, are we liberally arming them with weaponry every November? My sympathy at this time of year is for the men and women of the New Zealand fire service, the SPCA, hospital and ambulance staff, and the many others who have to mop up in the aftermath
...as if their jobs weren't busy enough to begin with.
The argument "against" banning fireworks outright goes like this - why should a minority of idiots spoil the fun for everyone else? After all, it's only a small number of individuals who actually misuse the things.
It's a decent argument, but then by its logic, why don't we freely sell rifles in supermarkets - no gun licence required, no questions asked? After all, only a small minority will ever do anything silly with the things.
And why not do away with driver licences? If you can see over the dashboard and can touch the pedals, you're a driver. Only a small minority will ever do anything stupid.
Well, we're not going to adopt either of those suggestions because they're patently absurd. Agreed? Good. So why are we still selling fireworks?
The Gunpowder Plot to blow up the British Parliament failed. Get over it.
* Stephen Ross is a Hamilton writer.