Fireworks idea a dud | Editorial
April 20, 2012 · Updated 2:03 PM
The basic facts of life argue against discussion among the Island County commissioners to further restrict the use of fireworks among the populace.
The fact is that thousands of people enjoy fireworks on and around the Fourth of July and there are only a handful of cops available to enforce the law. The situation is different in Oak Harbor and other cities where residents are packed closely together and police can keep a close eye on the careless and negligent. But in the hinterlands, the existing fireworks restrictions can’t be enforced, let alone any new ones the commissioners may be considering.
Certain days are set aside before and after Independence Day when fireworks can legally be discharged and scofflaws keep shooting until their fireworks are gone, regardless of the timing. If they have any left over, they shoot them off on New Year’s Eve, which is also technically illegal. A lot of people don’t like it, but they have to live with it because Island County deputies are busy doing other things, like breaking up domestic violence incidents and responding to burglaries, robberies, assaults and worse.
Longtime residents of Washington remember when fireworks were banned entirely and the ban was effective for a number of years. Not too many people wanted to travel to Idaho or Nevada just to get some firecrackers. The return of fireworks was made possible when Congress and the courts teamed up to make them available on Indian reservations. Anyone could drive onto one of our numerous area reservations and purchase fireworks, then drive off with no questions asked. The state reacted by adopting “safe and sane” fireworks standards, but those restrictions too are ignored by countless people.
Everyone with a drunken neighbor prone to celebrating too late, too long and too loudly with fireworks can sympathize with the critics. Sensitive pets need to taken to another place or perhaps fitted with ear plugs. Bedroom windows must be closed even if it’s hot on the Fourth of July. But it’s a do-it-yourself project. Deputies can’t respond unless fireworks users are being extraordinarily dangerous and clearly threaten people or property.
We already have more laws in a number of areas than can be enforced. Don’t add to the problem by adopting additional fireworks laws bound to be ignored.