Some Wal-Mart shoppers are being treated to an unusual sight for Georgians. Packages of sparkler-like fireworks are for sale in the local store, thanks to a recently passed Georgia law.
Reports of customer confusion concerning the fireworks came into The McDuffie Mirror over the weekend. Shoppers reportedly thought the fireworks were illegal in the state, but Senate Bill 133 - nicknamed the "sparkler law" - allows for the sale of fireworks that are "sparkling items which are nonexplosive and nonaerial."
One of the fireworks purchased from Wal-Mart sprays sparks into the air.
According to Wayne Whitaker, spokesman for Insurance and Fire Commissioner John Oxendine, the items for sale at Wal-Mart fit the description of what is legal as outlined by the law that went into effect on May 2. Mr. Oxendine's office is charged with overseeing the new law.
"They shouldn't be selling anything if it's over the size recommended and outlined by law in the new legislation. That basically was sparklers. That's what we're talking about, and that was the decision of the legislature to make those legal," he said. "It is my understanding that (what they are selling) does meet the letter of the law."
Wal-Mart's Toy Department Manager Marco Diaz said that the sparklers - some of which are encased in cardboard tubes three inches in diameter and nine inches tall - are selling well. He said prior to their arrival at the store, he received a call from the company selling the fireworks.
"They said everything they were sending was going to be sparklers, that they passed a new law that sparklers are allowed in Georgia now," he said. "That was it."
According to Mr. Whitaker, the confusion may be coming from the definition of the word "sparkler" which is outlined in the new law. People tend to think of sparklers as a single hand-held wire where a chemical compound burns to produce sparks.
But the size and shape of sparklers can vary. In fact, one variation of sparklers contains a fuse and can be placed on the ground for lighting. The sparkler would then emit "showers of sparks" as the items for sale in Wal-Mart state on the package.
Senate Bill 133 defines what is now legal as "wire or wood sparklers of not more than 100 grams of mixture per item; other sparkling items which are nonexplosive and nonaerial and contain 75 grams or less of chemical compound per tube or a total of 200 grams or less for multiple tubes."