A flip on fireworks

Friday, July 14, 2017

Last week I wrote about the fireworks problem in the city. I should have waited on that column until after the Tuesday night Kennett City Council meeting. As reported, several residents in Ward 1 spoke about fireworks terrorism. I didn’t use that term in the article Thursday, and I know that’s a tough way to describe it. You may bristle at it a little bit, but that’s the term that came to my mind as I heard these citizens telling their stories.

They talked about a gang of teenagers who did not care about people, property or the police. They were armed to the hilt. They shot at each other, at the police, and at citizens. They pelted cars and houses with fireworks. Alan Campbell with the KPD said that at one point they were shot at with some kind of fireworks that were so strong that it caused them to want to draw their weapon. All hours of the night – much past the time of legal shooting – starting much earlier than the law around here allows – well over 100 calls made to the police department – police calling it shooting gallery – some afraid to go outside – staying up all night to protect property. That describes what was going on in some Kennett neighborhoods.

If you would like to hear the comments these Kennett residents made, you can go to the newspaper’s website and hear them. Then you can decide for yourself. Hurry though, the video will be replaced by this week’s Council meeting on Wednesday.

I ended last week’s column by writing that fireworks are as American as apple pie on the 4th of July. I believe that still, but after hearing the stories told Tuesday night, I know also something must be done to put a stop to fireworks terrorism. One of the ladies began her remarks by saying she was fed up. I told a friend the next day if my property was under siege like that someone would have gotten hurt, and it would not have been me. No one I know, including those who sit on the Council, would put with fireworks terrorism. Not one of our citizens should have to put up with it – ever.

The Police Committee of the City Council is charged with responding to the citizens’ pleas for help. Let me help them out. While I understand the City gets revenue from the sale of fireworks, this problem has gotten completely out of hand. After quite a bit of thought on the subject (and I never thought I’d would have to think so much about fireworks), I’ve come to the conclusion that only an all out ban on fireworks within the city limits will take care of the problem. Only by banning fireworks inside the city limits will police officers have the authority they need to stop violators. Make the penalty as tough as a city ordinance can get. Violators would be ticketed, not warned, and I would then urge our municipal judge to assess the harshest penalty possible.

Maybe you can still sell them, but I wonder if that is even a good idea. If we want to try that, I have no problem with it, however, sales should not start until July 1. I stand by what I wrote about that last week. Let folks go out of the city limits and have at it. Buy thousands of dollars of fireworks. Good. Just don’t shoot them in the city limits.

I’m sorry if this sounds like a complete flip-flop from last week. It is, but sometimes it is necessary. Last week I was not in favor of a ban. After putting myself in the shoes of the people I heard Tuesday night, I decided I was premature in my opinion. It was loud in my neighborhood, not too far from theirs, and the fireworks started too early and ended too late, but a little patience was all I needed to exhibit.

If that were all that was going on, I would see no reason to ban them. Yet, that is not what is going on, and according to members of the KPD with whom I spoke in the past week, the problem is growing. I called for common sense last week, but for some common sense is lacking. So, we have to enforce some.

Should we allow a few to mess things up for everybody else? Well laws are for law breakers. The majority of folks obey the law, but that doesn’t mean we still don’t need prohibitions against certain kind of behavior. By a ban, we are saying we are not going to put up with this kind of crazy behavior in our town. We are not going to allow any of our citizens to be terrorized. Period.

There are cities around here that do not allow fireworks, and the 4th of July is celebrated just fine. Kennett used to be one of them, so it’s not like we’ve never done this before.

Until next week . . .

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