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Perils in our Midst.

Commenting on the recent dynamite accident in Wellington streets, the Post says:—The question of special and public interest which arises out of this deplorable affair is this : —How did the unfortunate lad procure that dynamite cartridge, and can any sportive youth obtain these fearfully dangerous little articles unimpeded, and proceed to “let them off” in our streets at the imminent risk of causing the wholesale destruction of life and property ? It is high time that the position should be clearly understood in this respect. Dynamite is an exceedingly mild and harmless thing to look at, but a giant of irresistible strength when aroused, and it has the special property of exercising tremendous power without requiring, like gunpowder, to be used in a confined space. For instance, a charge of dynamite merely laid on a vast rock or a massive iron plate and exploded will shatter rock or plate to fragments. A suitable charge simply placed against a stone wall and fired would blow it down instantly. Now this property of dynamite renders it a most useful instrument in the hands of miners, quarrymen, excavators, and others, for it enables a large amount of labour, hitherto expended in hollowing out a chamber for the blasting charge, to be saved. But the same property infinitely enhances its danger ini unskilful or reckless hands. It is sad enough to bear of a fine promising young man being maimed for life, but the matter would have been-much worse had the explosion, which tore off his hand, also wrecked a building and occasioned loss of life. Yet at present there seems no security that even a worse thing may not befall us any day. It may occur to some ingenious and enterprising youths, that a dozen dynamite cartridges would produce a magnificent “ pop ” if discharged together as a salvo. Or they might design to fire them successively in salute style. They might conceive that they had taken every precaution, and yet even in carrying that small but dangerous parcel along the streets, one of those inexplicable causes which have produced so many explosions might evoke the latent but terrible powers of the dynamite, and then in an instant there would be death, ruin, and destruction on all sides. That this is no imaginary, impossible, or even exaggerated picture of what might be is sufficiently demonstrated by many comparatively recent events which must be within the memory of our readers, and it is plain that no time ought to be lost in guarding against so deadly a peril. One course which should be taken is obvious. The sale of dynamite and all such dangerous explosives ought to be subject to at least the same restrictions as those under which the sale of poisons is carried on. They should never be sold except to responsible persons, who should be required to sign specific receipts in the presence of witnesses. This would tend at any —vko. twinrc to a minimum the chance of these perilous failing'tmo ignorant or careless hands.

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Perils in our Midst. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 192, 15 November 1880

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