When did we stop being considerate of our neighbors?
When did we become such boors that we only care how our actions affect ourselves and not others?
When did we stop caring about someone who might have to get up and go to work early the next morning, or who has young children who might be sleeping, or whose pets go crazy over loud noises, or about war veterans who might struggle with the imitation sounds of real battle?
A lack of basic courtesy — not a lack of laws or curfews — is at the root of the complaints about the abuse of personal fireworks this year. The solution is rooted in the same source.
For starters, all fireworks except those newly allowed ground sparklers are illegal in New York without a permit. All of them. Bet those counties that OKed the sparklers didn't think people would then just assume all fireworks are now legal and go crazy like they did. Their bad.
Secondly, most communities already have laws against disturbing the peace.
For example, the city of Schenectady addresses the issue extensively in several places in its City Code. There are restrictions on loud parties, barking dogs, radio and TV volume, power tools, hammering, singing, whistling (really) and any other conduct of a "loud, annoying or offensive manner" that "interferes with the comfort, repose, health or safety of members of the public." The code includes limits on the times certain activities can take place, limits on how loud the sounds can be, and a list of penalties for violations. Fireworks are about the only thing not included, because, as we said, they’re already illegal statewide.
Police do have the power to enforce these ordinances and they respond when they can. But they can't be expected to chase down every noise complaint, especially on the Fourth of July and especially if you want them responding to other crimes like DWIs and robberies and shootings and assaults.
You can politely try to approach your neighbors about the problem. But be aware you might be met with a punch in the nose, or worse, instead of an, "I'm sorry, we'll keep it down." But it's worth a try.
Bottom line is we already have all the laws we need, and police do their best.
The real solution lies in individuals taking it upon themselves to recognize when they're going too far, to put themselves in their neighbors' shoes, and to stop putting their own selfishness ahead of the legitimate concerns and comfort of others.
It's not too much to ask, is it? Well, it probably is. But it's as good a place as any to start.