Louisville’s Metro government has finally jumped the shark in the matter of regulating fireworks in Derby City. If there ever was any doubt that our town is virtually devoid of adult leadership, the continuing fireworks farrago should remove it once and for all.
For readers who haven’t been watching, a little history might be helpful. First of all, folks here in Louisville have always loved their fireworks. From the annual Thunder over Louisville at Derby time, to the many professional displays on Independence Day and other celebrations, pyrotechnic deployments always attract huge crowds.
State law traditionally outlawed most flying or noisy fireworks: no cherry-bombs, Roman candles, or bottle rockets could be legally sold or used in Kentucky. Kids had to be satisfied with sparklers and spurting fountains.
As with most silly laws, a large number of people chose to ignore the Commonwealth’s prohibition against personal use of fireworks, and trips down to the Tennessee border for incendiary logistics was a yearly Summer tradition for Louisville teenagers. Later, folks could just drive across the bridge to Indiana for their Fourth of July ordinance. They made you sign a bizarre form, in which you promised to use the fireworks only at licensed locations in Indiana, and not to export them to any neighboring state. Right.
Since the state's anti-fireworks law was mostly honored in its breach—and seldom enforced—the Kentucky General Assembly, in its infinite wisdom, passed a law earlier this year allowing personal use of all manner of small explosives. Bottle rockets, aerial stars, lady-fingers, and the ever-popular M-80s, were now legally available for patriots of all ages.
But, in a last-minute compromise, the legislature included a provision in the new law that would allow local municipalities the authority to pass more restrictive limits on firework use. And, sure enough, our Metro Council nannies—led by Chief Nanny, Councilwoman Madonna Flood (Dem., 24th Dist.)—passed an ordinance on November 17th that barred the sale and use of powerful fireworks. The draconian measure passed by a vote of 11-10.
When the public revolted against this legislative attempt to limit the sacred freedom of Louisvillians to fire off Roman candles, Metro Councilman Jerry Miller, (Rep., 19th Dist.) co-sponsored an ordinance repealing the November 17th ban. On December 8, by a vote of 14-8, the council legalized aerial and exploding fireworks again.
But not so fast. Today, with fanfare (but no fireworks) our new mayor, Gregg Fischer, announced that he was vetoing the December 8 ordinance. "I realize that these more dangerous fireworks are available in nearby counties, but that does not make it the right thing for us to do," Fischer said. "These powerful explosives are not appropriate for our more dense urban environment. As both mayor, and as a father, the last thing I want to see happen is a child to have a finger blown off or have some other injury due to these more dangerous fireworks."
We could put this imaginary stack of “blown off fingers” next to the pile of “eyes put out with B-B guns,” and have a carnage almost equal to the mysterious and un-named legions of folks killed by second-hand smoke.
Fischer’s diminutive general counsel, lawyer Pat Mulvihill, said the veto leaves in force the November 17 ordinance that prohibits the sale or use of most fireworks that explode or are shot into the air.
Councilman Jerry Miller was obviously disappointed in this latest turn of events, and accused Mayor Fischer of “..ignor(ing) the will of the elected Metro Council.” Suggesting that the mayor “…mayor should have made his feelings known during the debate instead of waiting to veto the measure” (a good point, there), he said it is too early to say whether the council will take up the fireworks issue again any time soon.
Councilman Miller also expressed doubts as to whether the citizens of Louisville will respect the fireworks ban (another good point).
When nanny-state liberals conspire to deprive folks of their liberties, they shouldn’t be surprised at the negative reaction generated. Next New Year’s Eve and next 4th of July, you can expect to see and hear just as many fireworks as in the past. And, come next election day, some of our Nanny Councilmen may find unexpected fireworks.
The Arena section features opinions from active participants in the city's politics. Their viewpoints are not those of Louisville.com (a website is an inanimate object and, as such, has no opinions). This article was prepared using only recycled electrons.
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