Iowa Needs To Outlaw Fireworks…Again [OPINION]
For many of the 22 years I've worked on the morning show here at KHAK, I've been loud in my support for the legalization of fireworks. Well, in 2017 I got my wish. And it seems like the state has been on fire ever since. Just four short years later, I came to a realization this weekend. Fireworks should be left in the hands of the experts. Like the folks who set off the wonderful display in downtown Cedar Rapids on the 4th of July. They however, should not be left in the hands of your average Joe. Because as safe as you think you're being, it just isn't safe enough.
Part of my realization that fireworks have gotten out of control came on the 4th of July. I was gathered with my family on the banks of the Cedar River, as many of you probably were, waiting for the Freedom Festival fireworks. But while we were waiting for those, several other displays were happening around the city. But wait, aren't fireworks illegal to set off in Cedar Rapids? According to the law, yes they are. But laws on the 4th of July are apparently mere suggestions. As I sat and closed my eyes, I wasn't in downtown Cedar Rapids anymore. If you can't see the pretty lights, all you hear are explosions. It sounded like mortar fire in some city being bombed. Bombed by fireworks. No wonder so many of our nations veterans suffer from PTSD and have issues on the 4th of July.
The Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that Cedar Rapids police received 477 fireworks related calls this year. That was down from the pandemic year of 2020, but up from 2019. Cedar Rapids fire officials responded to 10 fireworks related blazes this year, more the double a year ago. Then there are the fireworks related injuries. Numbers aren't in yet from local hospitals, but many who are hurt don't seek medical attention. A co-worker of my wife was seriously injure this year when a firework hit her in the face. She suffered burns on her face and a broken nose. Then there is the tragic story of NHL goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks, who was killed when an off target firework hit him in the chest while he was lounging in a hot tub.
Iowa, you were given the chance to show how'd you react with fireworks back in your hands. Some of you have done well and acted accordingly. But most of you can't be trusted. It's time for our veterans and pets to stop cowering in fear. It's time for our homes and structures to stop being set on fire. It's time to stop our children from being senselessly injured. It's time for Iowa to declare it's independence from fireworks.
Those are words I never thought I'd type. But at 46 years of age, I guess I finally grew up, and realized that blowing crap up, isn't really freedom from anything.