The front page of one local newspaper, The Baxter Bulletin, addresses the latest city ban – novelty lighters that imitate toys are verboten in Mountain Home, Arkansas. According to the newspaper, the ban is immediate. Dumpster divers are likely to find quite the plethora of lighters since the immediacy leaves retail businesses with no window to liquidate current inventory.
What’s up with the ban? The Mountain Home Fire Department Chief is reported to have purchased a collection of interesting and fun novelty lighters for display to City Council members. The Fire Chief’s concern is that kids will play with the lighters and inadvertently start fires. Those who violate the ban will get more than a warning – they’re eligible for punishment for committing a misdemeanor. If found guilty, they could be adding $50.00 to the city coffer.
I was beginning to warm up to Mountain Home – or at least thaw a little. My initial reaction to reading the city’s new (and immediate) ban on novelty lighters just made me sad. I do understand that kids start fires – both by accident and by intention. I believe the problem lies more with parents who don’t keep the matches put away or don’t pay attention to kids and less to retailers who sell interesting lighters to individuals who use or collect them.
What about lighters that aren’t novelty designs? I have yet to see a child who isn’t fascinated by the use of a lighter, even if it’s just one of those plain green, red or orange disposables available at the discount store. Plenty of intentional and accidental fires have been started by kids playing with lighters or matches. This will be an issue as long as there are children and lighters in existence.
While I’m not at all against safety issues, I have to wonder if there isn’t a better way to resolve this one. Why not just make the novelty lighters available to adults only and keep them for sale? I keep reminding myself that I’m living in the Bible Belt, hence no liquor at the local -Mart store and nothing remotely adult available within city limits. I just can’t escape the feeling that city officials are policing local adults interests and now habits.
I think I’ll stick to rural living and do my shopping in cities that have better things to do than boss me. I might even start collecting novelty lighters. The Baxter Bulletin article mentioned one that looks like Santa and plays music. If the power goes out during our wintry weather, a little tune might make lighting the fireplace fun. I’ll just make sure I put the lighter out of reach of the grandchild once I start the fire.