Archive for Thursday, June 19, 2003

Proposed restrictions on shooting fireworks deserve consideration

June 19, 2003

Earlier this month, Eudora City Administrator Mike Yanez suggested the City Council consider a ban on fireworks in public spaces as a precaution. The city administrator was concerned Lawrence's decision to join Johnson County in banning fireworks might trigger an influx of those eager to shoot off fireworks to Eudora parks and open spaces -- fireworks are already banned on city streets.

The City Council, however, chose not to act on Yanez's proposal because its members thought restrictions would penalize Eudora residents based on what was at this point merely a potential problem.

It's difficult to say whether the migration Yanez wanted to prevent will come to pass, but it is certainly a possibility. Fireworks aren't welcome at Clinton Lake, and given the large-lot development that surrounds Lawrence, Fourth celebrants aren't likely to find a welcome in that city's outlying rural areas. And many might well come to Eudora to purchase fireworks with their sale forbidden in nearby urban areas. If Lawrence residents do come to Eudora with the intent of popping off their fireworks, public spaces would be the only place they would be welcome.

As has been stated before in this space, fireworks have a unique place in our increasingly environmentally and safety-minded -- not to mention litigious -- society. One can imagine the obstacles a sparkler manufacturer would have to overcome if it attempted to introduce that product to the market in today's climate.

Still, most enjoy a few bangs and flashes on the Fourth of July, although perhaps not the extended grace period the law now allows. But we should enjoy them responsibly. That should include not asking other taxpayers to pay for our cleanup or put out fires set through our carelessness. Aside from the argument that shooting fireworks on concrete parking lots and in open spaces away from buildings is sometimes safer, there are few reasons to have fireworks on public property. Reasons are even less compelling when the shooters are from out of town.

The proposal seemed a reasonable precaution. We hope the City Council gives it more thought.

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