ACHTUNG: This is not a fair and balanced story. It is an editorial by the editor.
I’ve been railing against the Michigan Legislature’s terrible decision to allow fireworks everywhere on holidays for the past five years. But virtually nothing has changed.
Calling or writing your legislator, as we are so often told to do when a bad law is passed, hasn’t gotten anything in the way of relief for common everyday folks who just want peace and quiet.
To be sure, there is an organization, “Repeal the Michigan Fireworks Law,” which tries to do mobilize public opinion because our boys and girls in Lansing aren’t doing anything to solve the problem.
The pressure group has noted on its web site, “Hospital Emergency Department visits increase by approximately 42% in the month surrounding the Fourth of July holiday. Fireworks are dangerous and fireworks injuries are real. Let’s bring back the peace and safety to our state and let’s repeal Michigan’s fireworks law. Tell your legislator to support House Bills 4244, 4245, 4346.”
Yes, there are three bills that have been introduced, but I don’t hold out a lot of hope.
This, despite the fact every time I’ve seen any polling on the issue, a clear majority would like to have the fireworks law repealed. An MLive.com survey showed 60 percent opposition to the law, which permits home fireworks displays on the day before, day of and day after holidays, most notably Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day.
Just like motorists who drive more than the 70 mph speed limit, there are more than a few bad neighbors who set off the noise and dangerous devices at time other than what is permitted. And when the cops are called, they shrug their shoulders and say there’s not much they can do.
So it appears we’re stuck with a law that allows disturbing the public peace, frightening pets and veterans and annoying neighborhoods with loud unwelcome noise.
It’s gotten so bad that I’ve been asking around if there’s some place I can go to get away from this madness. I’ve learned you can run, but you can’t hide.
I’ve come up with my own proposed legislation, but sincerely doubt State Reps. Steven Johnson or Mary Whiteford will do anything. I propose handing power to local governments to limit where and when fireworks can be launched within their jurisdictions. I suggest that local public safety officers clearly identify and outline where they can be used and set, but fireworks’ presence anywhere else in the village, township or city will be verboten. That’s prohibited.
Then I propose that all members of the local fire department, police department and emergency services department be deputized during those three days and be given power to issue citations to any scofflaw who shoots them off in an unauthorized area.
Increasing the fireworks police force to outlaw loud, obnoxious and too often dangerous explosive devices just might minimize the misery and still allow “I don’t wanna grow up” fireworks lovers a place to practice their childish mischief.
A Village Council, City Council or Township Board could adopt an ordinance regulating the use and abuse of fireworks. And once again, the deputized personnel should be given the power to issue citations.
I hereby throw down the gauntlet to local municipalities on behalf of pets, veterans and peace-loving residents of this fair state. If this would create a sort of legal crisis vs. state law, so be it. Such action might cause our bozos in Lansing finally to get off their duffs and for once do something on behalf of their constituents.