Could Bloomberg’s Fireworks Phobia Hurt Presidential Plans?

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If presidential candidate Bloomberg, should there be a presidential candidate Bloomberg, hopes to snag a certain key swing state, he might want to revisit his get-tough position on fireworks. Last year, citing safety concerns, Bloomberg caused a stir among pyrotechnics enthusiasts by sending undercover NYPD cops to the parking lots of fireworks stands in Pennsylvania. New York’s Finest followed purchasers back to the city (where the cops have jurisdiction) and seized the buyers’ caches and — in some cases — their cars. This year, the NYPD has similar plans, as does the New York State Police, which for the first time in recent years is also piling onto the annual July 4 anti-fireworks crackdown. All of which has pyrotechnics peddlers pissed.

“They’re not playing fair,” says Bill Weimer, who owns 54 fireworks stands in thirteen states and recently retained a law firm in Pennsylvania to assess whether he has grounds for a lawsuit. “In 2007, you’d think there were more important issues to address than cracking down on people celebrating freedom in a relatively benign way.” Julie Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association, makes it simple: “He’s not going to win over the Roman-candle crowd.” New York is one of five states that ban fireworks outright; the rest — plus the District of Columbia, where Bloomberg is maybe looking to move — permit them, to varying degrees. —Geoffrey Gray