Common sense, courtesy could defuse most fireworks angst

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There always seem to be a few people who can’t play by the rules.

And, unfortunately for those who gathered to watch Cedar Rapids’ annual fireworks display or who had to get up early Wednesday morning, rule-breakers made the holiday less enjoyable.

From reports of large firecrackers thrown from open car windows, to aerial displays lit on streets and other public property, Freedom Festival attendees’ and community residents’ complaints and concerns are justified.

Millions of Americans use consumer fireworks each year, most doing so according to local regulations and as safely as possible. Even so, injuries occur.

It should go without saying that initiating explosions in the midst of a crowd is foolish and dangerous.

Carelessly igniting objects known for their ability to cause harm while surrounded by throngs of people, especially children, is unconscionable — and a clear violation of Iowa’s fledgling fireworks law. Frankly, we’re disappointed city officials either didn’t see this coming, or misjudged the need to empower law enforcement.

Residents throughout the metro, including advocates of legalized fireworks, are speaking out. Many of their complaints would not have materialized if others approached their newfound fireworks freedom with common sense and courtesy.

No resident should be forced to repeatedly clean debris left on their property from celebrations they did not host.

Residents attending early classes or work don’t appreciate being roused by fireworks shot after 10 p.m.

No one appreciates neighbors who usurp the law by using internet sites or out-of-state vendors to purchase more powerful boomers.

Our appreciation goes to area residents who have acted responsibly and with consideration for others.

We’re also grateful to the Marion Police Department, which conducted compliance checks at fireworks vendors and found five of seven violating the state prohibition on sales to minors. To our knowledge, Marion is the only regional agency to do so.

The Legislature put governments and residents on the spot by providing so little time for local decision-making. Poor planning has been made worse by residents who have abused lax regulation.

Iowa communities will respond to legitimate concerns raised by residents. If that response includes fewer opportunities to enjoy legalized fireworks, we know who to blame.

• Comments: (319) 398-8262; editorial@thegazette.com

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