In today’s paper, Bill Lundy, secretary of the Nebraska State Volunteer Firefighters Association, responds to an editorial I wrote about how I didn’t feel it was the state’s responsibility to ban the sale of novelty lighters in Nebraska.
I must tell you as I read his letter, the reason for the novelty lighter ban is a bit clearer. He cited several statistics, like 37 percent of fires are started by juveniles, and 14 states have already banned the novelty lighters. I don’t doubt these stats for a moment. But before we go completely down the road of big-brother government, I wish Mr. Lundy had provided us with additional information.
There is “feel-good” legislation and there is “do-good” legislation. Banning novelty lighters … which is it, “feel-good” or “do-good?” Since 14 states have banned novelty lighters, what are the effects? Has there been a reduction in fire injuries and fatalities that can be traced back to the novelty lighter ban?
At what point does the state stop making more laws to cover up poor parenting. Where does individual responsibility and government responsibility begin and end. Should we ban all guns because guns kill folks? Should we ban all cars because children are killed by the thousands in auto accidents? Ridiculous you say? Probably so, but where is the line?
Freedom comes with personal responsibility. I suppose if we are unable to act responsibly, then we give up the right to freedom and cede all responsibilities to the state. It’s absurd.
Secretary Lundy asks for my apology. I’ll give one if Mr. Lundy will return the favor.
First, mine. As I read the text of LB 469 there is no mention, not a single word from the bill’s sponsor, Senator Karpisek, about any reason whatsoever why he wants this bill, nothing about fires, children, injuries or fatalities. I am sorry if I jumped to conclusions without all the facts, but I am still waiting for facts to validate that banning novelty lighters saves lives. I would hope you (Bill Lundy) could provide us with that information.
Now it’s Mr. Lundy’s turn. In his response he was so grossly mistaken I nearly get sick each time I read it. Mr. Lundy said, “Maybe to increase the sale of newspapers you are wishing that you can report on a firefighter death trying to save lives from a fire started by a 4-year-old with his Daffy Duck lighter.”
Shame on you Bill Lundy. I will officially go on the record right now and say if I had my wish we would never again have to cover a fire or accident, especially one where injury or death was present. For you to even insinuate that your neighbors and friends who work at the York News-Times would ever put a few lousy dollars in front of a human life is completely irresponsible. It’s worth repeating when I tell you there is not a single person in this newspaper who looks forward to the scanner going off informing us of yet another tragedy. If apologies are in order, I would ask that you apologize to every employee of this newspaper.
Who knows, maybe you are right about banning novelty lighters. We should be able to have a civil discussion about it. And, I hope we could agree on the fact you and your fellow firefighters are out there doing their job every day, just as we are, and in many instances side by side. While you are out there saving property and lives, the York News-Times is reporting factual accounts of the job you all do so well. We see what you see. We feel what you feel. It then becomes our job to inform readers about the tragedy, despite the amazing work done by our local firefighters, often times in the midst of danger.
Many times the photographic coverage we provide is sought out by police and fire departments to help with investigations. In fact, Steve Moseley, York News-Times Editor, was the official photographer for the Powell Wyoming Fire Department while he was on the Powell Tribune newspaper staff.
Like you, we are proud of our work, but make no doubt about it. We get no joy responding and reporting on the very same calls you and the other brave firefighters must.
I look forward to a continuing discussion of facts and opinions about LB 469, the novelty lighter ban, not only with you, but from our readers as well. I invite everyone to chime in.