Fast Focus: 'Should personal fireworks be banned?' Violating their neighbors' rights

July 13, 2013 

Personal fireworks should be banned based on the commonly accepted rule of rights that says one person's rights come to an end where another person's rights are being stepped on.

In this case, the right of one group of individuals to set off rockets, produce extremely loud noises throughout the night and light up the sky as part of their party ... these rights end when their actions trample on the property rights of neighbors who, as a result of these actions, have to put out fires in their yards, put up with the unwanted noise, spend hours comforting terrified pets and then, the next day, spend hours cleaning up rooftops, yards and adjacent street of the residual shell casings and debris.

People should have the right to party in any way they want as long as they don't infringe on the rights of others. However, this simply isn't the case when personal fireworks are involved.

So unless some clever person can come up with a way to assure that firework parties will not cause these problems, the only path forward I can suggest is to ban all personal fireworks, with stiff fines for violation of the ban, fines for violation of local sound ordinances and fines for violation of litter laws.

There are alternatives to personal fireworks. Public firework displays, such as we have along the Columbia River, minimize these problems while bringing large segments of our community together in a spirit that is more in line with the traditional, patriotic intent of Independence Day celebrations.

My last point is to suggest that persons contact our elected city and county officials to share their views on personal fireworks. If you don't mind having your yard trashed, watching for and having to put out fires, not getting to sleep until the party next door is over and putting up with terrified pets, then write to support the existing laws and enforcement policy. If you feel neighbors do not have the right to trash your yard, keep you awake with their noise or to terrify your pets, then write to ask for a revision of the existing laws and enforcement policy.

-- CARL BERKOWITZ, Richland

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