EDITORIAL: Statewide effort needed to curb fireworks abuse

County efforts to roll back sales won't alone be enough to stop noise complaints
A car passes an exploding firework at the intersection of Backus and Albany streets June 23
A car passes an exploding firework at the intersection of Backus and Albany streets June 23

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

It was a bad idea when they passed it six years ago. And it’s been proven to be a bad idea ever since.

And all for the benefit of a few sales tax dollars and the opportunity for a few classless yahoos to have fun at the expense of their neighbors.

For all those who’ve been distressed, annoyed, kept awake and traumatized by illegal fireworks going off at all hours of the night in cities around the state for the past few weeks, it’s time for the state to seriously crack down on fireworks.

After experiencing a significant increase this year in fireworks complaints, more counties are considering opting out of a 2015 state law that allows the sale of certain fireworks lumped under the category of “sparklers.”

Albany County officials – fed up with a 700% increase in 9-1-1 fireworks calls this summer – on Monday announced they are considering opting out, joining Schenectady County and some others.

They’re hoping the sales ban will cut down on the overall use of fireworks and help police more readily identify illegal fireworks.

But a county-by-county opt-out will only have a limited effect, since people can readily drive to the nearest county where sales are allowed and buy them. 

The ban needs to be statewide.

But that’s just the start.

The state also needs to crack down on the sale of illegal fireworks from other states where they are legal, such as Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Maine.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has shown during the covid crisis that he can work with neighboring states to solve a problem they all have in common. He needs to work his magic with them on this issue.

On Monday, the governor got off to a start by announcing an effort involving State Police to prevent fireworks from making their way into New York. He also needs to crack down on the internet sale of fireworks.

Due to the covid crisis, our collective quality of life has been disrupted. The growing abuse of fireworks is only making it worse for people who have to go to work, veterans with PTSD issues, people with children and pets, and anyone who just expects a decent night’s sleep.

Don’t pay heed to those who say people need to vent after months of social isolation due to covid. You don’t have to blow up stuff at 2 in the morning to get that relief. Go kick a soccer ball around.

And no, this is not the government depriving you of some right. The Constitution contains no right to disrupt the lives of others for your own entertainment.

We know no law will ever compel everyone to comply with it. Even with a ban on sales and a crackdown on illegal usage, there still will be fireworks.

But it’s time for the government to side with the majority of citizens who expect peace and calm at night instead of siding with the minority of residents who think they should be able to do whatever they want, whenever they want, no matter who it bothers or harms.

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