A father and daughter from North Carolina traveled to Iowa Wednesday to lobby against a bill in the Iowa legislature that would legalize fireworks.
“We don’t want anyone else to feel the pain that we feel,” Jack Shannon told Radio Iowa Wednesday afternoon during an interview in the statehouse.
On July 4, 1991, Jack Shannon’s son — who was nearly four years old — was standing between his legs when a firecracker tipped over and hit the toddler in the head.
“If we come and tell Michael’s story, if we prevent somebody from being in that position, it’s well worth coming and it honors Michael,” Jack Shannon said.
Stephanie Shannon was two years old at the time and the “flash” of that accident is one of the few memories she has of her brother.
“I always feel like our time was cut short and I have dedicated my life to wanting to make sure that other people know the dangers of fireworks and I think there’s a common misconception that if it’s on the market, it’s safe,” Stephanie Shannon said. “And it’s not.”
She pointed to Consumer Product Safety Commission tests indicating up to 30 percent of fireworks are flawed and unsafe.
“You wouldn’t take a drug or drive a car that had a one-in-three chance of failing,” Stephanie Shannon told Radio Iowa.
A week ago the Iowa House passed a bill that would make it legal to sell and set off fireworks in Iowa. The Shannons say the bill is among the “most liberal” in the country when it comes to legalizing the most dangerous class of explosives. The father and daughter met Wednesday afternoon with the top Democrat in the Iowa Senate to air their concerns about the bill.
“Really, our stance is if we can change one person’s thought process, one family’s tragedy then we’re doing something good for Michael and that’s really what matters,” Stephanie Shannon said.
Earlier this month a Senate committee has endorsed a bill to legalize fireworks, but the bill has not been called up for a vote in the full senate this year. According to a coalition of groups that opposes the bill, more than 11,000 Americans were injured by fireworks in 2013. Half of those injured were bystanders, not the people setting off the fireworks and half of the kids injured were being supervised by an adult.