Make Fireworks Illegal in Iowa Again

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To Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and members of the Iowa Senate:

This letter is to request the retail sale and private use of fireworks be once again made illegal statewide in Iowa.  Despite individual cities being able to pass ordinances since Senate File 489 was passed, citizens, myself included, have been subject to individuals both near and relatively far away using fireworks (and more often than not are breaking city ordinances) with no respect for 1) the law and city ordinances set, 2) thus disrespect for law enforcement and other local officials 3) safety of people, pets and property, 4) noise levels throughout the evening and night time, 5) the comfort level and violation of security for people and animals who have PTSD, anxiety and other invisible wounds/illnesses and/or absolutely cannot tolerate the loud decibels of explosives launching/screeching/exploding as well as the sudden flashes of bright light nor should have to.  People and animals alike have the right to feel safe and secure in their own homes.  No one should have to go to great lengths to avoid the use of fireworks, and the now legal retail sales and private use of fireworks & the prevalence at which they are being used and laws/regulations/ordinances are being broken makes it impossible.

Not only is it a disturbance for citizens, it also affects law enforcement negatively and potentially dangerously for themselves and others.  People using fireworks legally are generating complaints to law enforcement, and those who use them illegally are intentionally breaking the law/regulations/ordinances and disrespecting other citizens and those who are tasked with upholding the law.

It would seems logical the only way to be able to enforce the new laws/regulations/ordinances would be catching someone in the act.  I personally am not comfortable going out after dark to confront what may be an individual or a group of people for breaking the law.  I don’t think I am alone in feeling that’s not safe to do and not in my best interest.   So by the time a citizen best estimates where a firework is being launched from, calls and speaks to a dispatcher, an officer is sent and reaches the area believed to be where the fireworks are being used, what are the odds someone will be caught in the act and something will immediately change?  What are the odds the private use of those fireworks will stop?  Even when laws/regulations/ordinances are being broken?  It is more likely for people to flee or hide to avoid being seen or caught, or they may simply deny any act or involvement.  That’s a huge waste of time, money and resources.

Law enforcement needs to be able to respond to emergencies that absolutely cannot wait.  Can you imagine anyone in an emergency having to wait for help because law officials are busy responding to calls regarding fireworks? And then officials have to be redirected to a scene where someone else is desperate for assistance, and for those others in need it isn't fast enough?  Not only is it horrifying, but it increases risk unnecessarily for citizens and law enforcement.  I really do pray that it doesn’t ever happen, however I do fear it will be only a matter of time before it does.  I also fear it's a matter of time before a devastating fireworks related event occurs again.  Personal injuries in the state have already occurred.  The statewide ban long ago was for good reason.  No matter how careful people try to be, accidents still happen.  The following is from an article by MacKenzie Elmer for the Des Moines Register (first published June 13, 2017, updated June 17, 2017):

“Iowa halted the sale of most retail fireworks on Jan. 1, 1938, in the wake of two devastating fireworks-related blazes in northwest Iowa. In Spencer, nearly five blocks of the city's main business district were destroyed in a 1931 fire after a boy dropped a lit sparkler in a drugstore fireworks display. Twenty-five buildings were lost, and 50 more were damaged. In Remsen, a girl dropped a sparkler on a pile of gasoline-soaked rags in a garage on July 4, 1936, destroying 20 businesses and leaving 100 people homeless.”

A catastrophic event shouldn't have to occur before regulations are changed. As the saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

It’s also no secret that individuals with PTSD, anxiety or other invisible wounds/illnesses are affected negatively by fireworks as are animals, especially dogs.  I use the word “negatively”, however it’s an understatement as it goes far beyond being an annoyance, disturbance or inconvenience.  If you need details of what it’s like to experience and/or what it’s like to experience when being triggered, visit personally with someone who can tell you face to face.  If you don’t have PTSD or another invisible wound/illness yourself you are fortunate & I hope it never happens to you, but you will have an idea what it’s like after hearing first-hand how it feels and affects daily life.

Consider too how animals are affected- terrified, they disappear from yards, homes, their owners.  It’s likely they will end up in a shelter where they will possibly not be microchipped or have personal information registered with the microchip so as to contact owners.  At which point they may go up for adoption or be euthanized.  It’s also possible someone will find a runaway (or adopt one) to turn around to sell for money or abuse them.  Animals also of course get hit by vehicles and suffer injury and/or die.  We all want our lost animals to be found, and no one wants any of the above to happen in the first place.  And not all animals are pets.  Many individuals have service animals, specifically service dogs.  I don’t know the statistics of a lost service dog, but they are all paired for very specific reasons, and I can’t imagine a person without their partner for any reason.  Regardless if they are a pet or service animal, they also deserve to BE safe and sound.

People and animals alike deserve to FEEL comfortable inside their own homes, and the auditory and visual disturbances of fireworks used at any given time & without warning makes it so difficult that it really is nearly impossible.  Turning up television volume or music just makes more noise and can be overwhelming and/or also be a noise disturbance to others.  Turning on a fan often isn’t enough “white” noise to mask the sounds of fireworks, especially in residential neighborhoods.  Wearing earplugs at all hours of the evening or night is not logical nor always feasible, nor is closing curtains, covering windows or a person’s or animal’s eyes constantly to avoid seeing bright flashes of light.

I know I’m not covering all the bases in this letter, but please consider these things and what others will say as well.  It is wonderful to enjoy July 4th celebrations & shows each year when put on by cities and certain organizations.  As those events are limited and announced in advance it gives individuals the opportunity to prepare themselves and/or their animals ahead of time.  This is impossible now that retails sales and private use are legal.  You can’t put a price on respect, safety and comfort.  Please, change the law and make the retail sale and private use of fireworks illegal again in the State of Iowa.

 



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