Northwest NEWS

May 31, 1999


Quick-fix laws do not make long-term sense

   In 1993, our City Council placed limitations on selling and using fireworks. This month they are considering a full ban.

   This ban would forbid the rights granted us by the state legislature. It would not prevent the use of fireworks that are already illegal and easily obtained elsewhere. Moreover, it cannot be enforced. If this ban passes on June 14, many of us will be criminals if we light a sparkler next year.

   Currently, only "safe and sane" fireworks (sparklers, cones) may be purchased between June 28 through July 4 by individuals 16 years and older. These Class C fireworks can be set off only on July 4 from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m. Fireworks are not allowed on any other day, even at New Year's. These limitations were set in 1993, after great debate and compromise, so that neighborhoods could still gather together to celebrate in a way that few do at any other time of the year, and so that parents could supervise children's activities.

   We are told that this ban will prevent children from burning themselves, relieve both animals and people from noise, and protect our property. These are all desirable goals, but they cannot be reached by outlawing sparklers and cones.

   The true problem is the continued use of fireworks that are already illegal (M-80s, bottle rockets, etc.). The only solution is putting responsibility for the noise and damage where it belongs.

   Let's put our energies into a good education program aimed at kids. Let's enact stiff penalties for those breaking our existing laws. And let's put our money into providing places and alternative activities for our youths. Quick-fix laws don't make long-term good sense.

Marsha Engel, Woodinville City Councilmemeber