Archive for Thursday, July 28, 2005

Proper enforcement key to lifting fireworks ban

July 28, 2005

It's difficult to imagine a case for fireworks had they not been invented centuries ago or somehow became entwined with the annual celebration of our independence. In the present environment, suggesting such a consumer good with such obvious product liability would get the advocate laughed out of a corporate board room. Add to that considerable environmental concerns raised from the blacked-out smudge of sulfates and nitrates left from a family fireworks show, and there would be no chance of their retail sale.

But, of course, fireworks have been with us since their invention in China and subsequent introduction to Western Europe in the 13th century and are as synonymous with the Fourth of July as pumpkins are to Halloween. That is to say, as Ted Morse in effect said at Thursday's De Soto City Council meeting, "they're here." And while many De Soto residents are just as happy to cope with the July heat without the added annoyance of blasts near and far, they aren't going away despite the long-standing ban. De Soto is too close to two county lines and other sources of fireworks to realistically ban their use, as any one resident not deaf knows.

After witnessing De Soto on the Fourth two years ago, we used this space to question the ban. Residents obviously didn't believe in it. The use of fireworks is so widespread that it appears almost universal, putting law enforcement officers in an impossible position. They would be forced to write a citation for one violation as a background din of explosions opened them to charges of selective enforcement.

In addition, the unenforceable ban costs local non-profit groups an opportunity to raise money.

With well-thought-out regulations, law enforcement officers shouldn't be in that position with the lifting of the ban. One big concern among council members that was also expressed by De Soto USD 232 board members Monday was use of fireworks on public property. City, and especially school district property in De Soto, is pretty much contained. Those shooting fireworks at those locations will be noticeable, with one exception. The first is the annual fireworks show. If the district is gracious enough to continue to allow use of the football stadium for the well-received fireworks show, the city should sternly enforce the prohibition against the discharge on sidewalks on district property.

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