Ludington Fireworks Ban Not Needed if We Enforce the Laws on the Books

What the Fireworks Ban Will Do

Last night at the August 11, 2014 Ludington City Council meeting I led off with and spent a couple of minutes giving some of my perspective on the proposed Fireworks ban in Ludington during the public comment period. 

"First off, let me strongly encourage the city council to rethink their wording of ordinance 290-14, the fireworks ordinance.  It amends section 22-98 of the city code by saying:  "No person shall at any time ignite, discharge, or use consumer fireworks within the city except on days before, on or after a national holiday".   It provides the city council the ability to waive that restriction for individuals or groups for special events. 

In its current form, you could be fined for $500 per offense for having your kids light up sparklers on July 2.  Consumer fireworks include sparklers, smoke balls, firecrackers, fountains, and even snap n pops. 

It  gives the incredible power to the council to tell our citizens when they can use otherwise legal fireworks, and the ordinance as written liberally interprets state law into a fascist local policy.  MCL 28.457 (amended in June 2013), section 2 says that "A local unit of government may enact an ordinance regulating the ignition, discharge, and use of consumer fireworks, including, but not limited to, an ordinance prescribing the hours of the day or night during which a person may ignite, discharge, or use consumer fireworks."  

It does not say, imply, or infer that a local unit can ban them for all the day, every day, except for the day before, on, or after a national holiday.  Obviously, if we are to believe the anecdotes supplied to us by some citizens that fireworks are being used between the hours of 1 and 8 AM by some other citizens, and there is little to dispute that is the case, then the ordinance as currently written is sufficient to address that. 

Taking the right to use legal consumer fireworks away from the public at large, while being able to dictate what individuals or groups can use them-- well, isn't that synonymous with the dictatorial behavior by the king of England that led to independence day in the first place, the reason we celebrate the fourth of July.  This city council is showing by this example how prone to tyranny it actually is."

City Attorney George Saylor III offered a correction at the end of the meeting to say that the ban would not include sparklers, and using the definition of "consumer fireworks" found in the Ludington City Code, he seems to be right.  I had not noticed that an ordinance passed late last year had that definition therein, and for my own research had relied on the Federal definition as explained in this link at the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) Bureau site.  The ATF and federal laws split fireworks into two categories: display fireworks and consumer fireworks, where the latter would basically consist of any fireworks that you could buy at most retailers around the Fourth of July-- hence the word consumer

This seems to be the standard definition for consumer fireworks, where what Ludington calls 'low impact fireworks' would be a subset.  Hence, the confusion about sparklers.  The city says Low-impact fireworks means ground and handheld sparkling devices as that phrase is defined under APA standard 87-1, 3.1, to, and 3.5.

Looking at APA to we find that the following devices are immune from the proposed ban:  cylindrical fountain, cone fountain, illuminating torch, wheel, ground spinner, flitter sparkler, toy smoke devices (5 g.+ of pyrotechnic material), and wire sparklers.   APA 3.5 is for multiple tube devices which is effectively a group of cylindrical fountains put together.

According to APA guidelines, these novelties may well become illegal to set off in Ludington for over 90% of the year: party poppers (3.2.1), snappers (3.2.2), small toy smoke devices (3.2.3), snakes (3.2.4), wire sparklers (3.2.5).  As stated in the link "these (novelties) must still comply with all labeling requirements of CPSC applicable to consumer fireworks devices". 

Hence, using Ludington's "Consumer fireworks" definition, the soon-to-be-banned fireworks include these novelties that fall outside the definition of 'low impact fireworks'.  A good city attorney can thus rule that a sparkler is banned by the currently worded ordinance, City Attorney George Saylor, and earn up to $500 per for the general fund!

Fixing the Problem Without Draconian New Laws

Of course, the usual firecrackers, bottle rockets, roman candles, aerial shells, aerial spinners, etc. that make the big noises fall within the proposed ban as well.  But is it really necessary to ban almost all fireworks and novelty items to fix the problem as noted by many of our residents?

One has to commiserate with the ones who say they are being woke up in the middle of the night by inconsiderate neighbors shooting bottle rockets, that their pets are suffering great distress over the loud retorts, that veterans are having to move away from the constant barrage of firecrackers during the summer, etc.  But what is the underlying cause of these problems?  Is it the visual effect of the fireworks?  Nope, it is the sound of these fireworks and to a lesser extent the time these sounds go off.

So the distilled problem is effectively the noise of these fireworks and how they disturb the peace.  But Ludington already has a couple of noise ordinances on the books, and also defines what it is to disturb the peace, and gives set fines to violating those laws already.  Why create a law that punishes the vast majority of consumer fireworks users who responsibly operate their fireworks at reasonable times, with consideration for their neighbors?  Why restrict everyone's rights further when the law already presents a remedy to go after the rude folks that irresponsibly disturb the peace with loud noises? 

Last year, Scottville created an ordinance that banned consumer fireworks (without defining what they were) and Ludington amended their ordinance to ban fireworks between 10 PM and 10 AM.  This year, the complaints filtered into the July 14 council meeting saying that the law was not being complied with at 3:15 into it by Karen Nielsen, when she says her neighbors shoot out these noisy rockets 4 to 5 hours a night and "completely ignore the limitations the city council set". 


So is this a problem where more laws will somehow prevent what appears to be a problem on the enforcement end?   Making laws upon laws that only punish responsible fireworks users is precisely why this issue mirrors the same problems with making more rules going against responsible firearms users with the intent to scare criminals already using guns unlawfully.  The object is not creating more laws to further restrict constitutionally protected behaviors, but to enforce the laws existent to get the 'bad guys'.

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Well then we are ALL a bad guys at some point cause look how we where all raised in them days, ALL this crap wasn't a issues people didn't have so much crime and liers, and B & E'S , fighting and trying to hurt one another's family just cause they can.  We would of got sent to our room but not charged 500.00 and told you can't play or eat any more ia all i'am saying, what has happen to all you people ? What has happen to the way YOU was brought up did you not teach your kids right, So  you have to charge them to have fun on shooting off fireworks, I understand that its cool to do before and on and after,  But to charge them so much that's like totally crazy, from what i heard on this meeting Ludington is not hurting for money. 

I have to admit using many of the banned fireworks in the consumer's fireworks category as a kid. 

I would love to use those pull-firecrackers that featured string on the end of a low-grade firecracker that would pop when it was pulled, used a lot of those on doors, cupboards, and a whole lot of other creative ways.

I would wrap three to six sparklers with aluminum foil and tape use a sparkler as fuse, and see how much liftoff I could get with my sparkler rocket.

I would do similar things with firecrackers to get them to fly like rockets; I remember having a firecracker rocket fly over 70 ft. away from where it was lit.  It was somehow more refreshing than those pre-packaged bottle rockets-- which were still a thrill to light and run away from, just in case you got one of those ones that shot out then changed direction.

And I have to admit not liking ants as a kid, as the amount of firecrackers I put in or near anthills could attest to. 

All this I did as a kid growing up in the City of Scottville, and they did what the City of Ludington is bound to do tonight.  Ban consumer fireworks from the consumers use for all but the most limited of times.  Meanwhile these same people recently started up the tradition of shooting a bunch of fireworks off on New Year's.  It's all good if you're the government shooting fireworks - it's bad if you want your kids to enjoy the fun, freedom and liberation associated with using their own fireworks. 

Pay the government $500 and go back to listening and obeying mode like the other drones.  A better plan is to rise up against the ingrained tyranny by fighting back for your self-evident rights.

This new ordinance is, again, an over reaction by a Government agency to a situation that can be corrected with laws already on the books. The problem is "noise" so enforce the "noise" ordinance, don't bastardize the laws already passed which have the  approval of a majority of the citizens. 

A person's right to use fireworks should be hindered only by his duties to others to preserve their peace and their safety.  As Eastwick has stated, the best course is to communicate with your neighbors and work out a plan.  If that doesn't work, don't try to force an unreasonable solution on over 8000 other people who generally respect other people's rights.  Go after the ones who are violating your right to reasonably, peacefully enjoy your property.


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