It shouldn't take a painful tragedy for Northwest Indiana, and our greater state, to get serious about fireworks safety.
But the weekend fireworks-related death of a Hebron man should provide a sobering warning of the hazardous consequences of playing with what amounts to, in some cases, heavy-duty explosives.
In previous editorials, we've decried the lack of courtesy connected to loud recreational fireworks blasts.
The tragedy in Hebron elevates the matter to a whole new level of discussion.
Right now, the state of Indiana sanctions the legal sale and use of fireworks by people who aren't professionally trained or licensed to ignite them.
Some fireworks can be deadly.
A blast from recreational fireworks killed Scott McKee, 37, of Hebron, on Saturday, leaving his family and friends in mourning.
He was placing a mortar into a tube when it exploded prematurely, striking him in the head, authorities said.
Our state needs to decide if the public safety hazards presented by fireworks is worth the great latitude given to fireworks users to purchase and launch the devices.
Why do recreational fireworks users have more of a right to ignite these explosives than homeowners who cringe when the blasts wake up sleeping babies, send pets into a frenzy or disturb the sleep of folks who must work an early shift the next morning?
Must the rights of recreational fireworks owners trump combat veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, who hit the floor or go into flashbacks as a result of the thunderous explosions?
What about the bystanders in their own yards who are showered with a neighbor's fireworks ash, flaming particles or errant misfires?
Should something potentially as lethal as dynamite or gunfire be casually peddled at local shops and used on a lark in residential neighborhoods?
Indiana should be facing these questions head on, not hiding from the issues or cow-towing to any special interest lobbies.
Plenty of dangerous substances and products are perfectly legal. But not all of them infringe on the rights or safety of others to the degree of fireworks.
It's time to douse the existing fuse and discuss a new way forward.