IF DWIGHT SLADE and Dave Anderson get their way, by next July Fourth, the skies above Oregon will be filled with bottle rockets and other heavy-duty explosives. The two KXL radio DJs are trying to use Oregon's ballot initiative system to punch through a law that would greatly expand the definition of legal fireworks in Oregon.

"What we want is some fireworks that will blow off a digit," said Slade, a co-sponsor of the initiative. "I don't see any genetic difference that would allow people in Washington to use these fireworks, and not us."

Current Oregon law prohibits the sale and use of any airborne fireworks. North across the Columbia River, though, firework stands along Washington's highways provide a smorgasbord of purchasable explosives. It is believed that each year thousands of Oregonians smuggle illegal fireworks back home.

According to the Portland Police Bureau, the police allow firework use to go largely unchecked--maybe fining a few teenagers for bottle rockets and, last year, confiscating a batch of illegal fireworks from a group of on-duty Portland firefighters. Without heavy-handed enforcement of firework use, the central issue of Ballot Measure 154 is whether a wide selection of fireworks will become available for sale in Oregon next year.

But even with a ground swell of support from KXL listeners and little--if any--opposition, it is still unclear if the matter will make it to November's ballot. Early in the process, the co-sponsors pledged not to pay for signature gatherers. Slade reports that they're coming up short on the requisite number of signatures. With less than ten days remaining before the cut-off date for gathering signatures, they could very well see the ballot blowing up in their faces even before it reaches the voters.