However, in Missouri, there is a healthy tradition of fireworks sales. Consequently, there is a healthy tradition of setting off one's own fireworks. Consequently to that, there are people who get hurt shooting off fireworks. And because of that we have a complex web of laws and rules regarding consumer grade fireworks in the Kansas City metro. The web of laws leads to ridiculousness every Fourth of July as a good number of generally law abiding citizens turn into nasty lawbreakers for a couple hours after dark on the Fourth of July.
So here you are, you have a prohibition, and you have easy access to the prohibited item. What do you think happens? Yup, people buy the prohibited item in the areas where it is legal to sell and possess the item and take it to areas where it is not legal to sell or possess said item. Then they use it for its intended purpose, making booms and pretty lights with reports. This poses a problem for law enforcement. The problem is, just about every neighborhood will break out in fireworks during the Fourth of July. Some neighborhoods sound like a war zone and develop a haze of smoke from all the explosives being detonated. Side Bar: During the recent flooding a police dispatcher asked the Sargent on duty, "Do you want the reports of high water given to individual officers, or dispatched as information like we do with fireworks calls on the Fourth?" That's when I knew it had rained a bunch and flash flooding was bad. So the mishmash of laws is confusing at least and difficult at most. Easy access makes enforcement for cities with a zero tolerance statute almost impossible. Those who sell fireworks, especially businesses very near KCMO and Overland Park, KS (another metro city with a zero tolerance law) have to know that people are taking their purchases to cities where it is illegal to have them. I wish everyone was sensible and safe taking care with their own safety and the safety and property of others while using fireworks. We know, however, this is not the case, as has been demonstrated over and over. And so we have laws and rules to try and protect us from something that can be dangerous to us. The problem comes in our little corner of America from all the different laws that have been put into effect in our 400+ square mile metroplex. I would just as soon have laws that were not quite so strict, and also consider setting up areas where fireworks could be used freely and legally. Some people would like to see a complete ban everywhere in the metro. Alas, some municipalities have come to be known as fireworks havens and make money on the taxes on the permits for and sales of fireworks, so that will never happen.
We have things that happen every Fourth of July in the Big Town: people shoot off fireworks all over the metro, including cities with prohibitions. OPKS will have more luck enforcing the law than KCMO. Someone will get hurt with fireworks. A structure will at least be threatened by fire, and at most be set on fire by fireworks. There will be news stories reminding us of fireworks safety. A poor innocent watermelon will be blown up on TV. We will be told to "leave it to the professionals." Ordinary citizens will be interviewed on TV and be completely split on the subject--some for a full ban and others for looser regulation.
Just be safe out there people. Whether you decide to shoot off personal fireworks or go to a display, be safe and sane. Don't drink and drive either. I think I'd rather take my chances with a loose bottle rocket than a loose drunk behind the wheel.
And remember why we celebrate, because this is the greatest country with the most freedom in the world, and July 4th is our great country's birthday.
(Photos are from Fireworks City's website--link here, and here is a link for Crazy Joe's.)