EDITORIAL – Now that the Fourth of July is behind us, maybe the our homes will stop being bombarded with the rocket’s red glare of five pound mortar shells exploding over our wood roofs and dry grass. But if past years are any indicator, the cease fire will more than likely end as soon as the Sun goes down on the Fifth of July.
With fines and criminal penalties going up each year for the possession and use of illegal fireworks, why does it seem that every year the neighborhood displays are more and more competing against the professional shows put on at Grizzlies Stadium or the Madera Speedway?
Last night, even after the professional display was finished at the Madera Municipal Golf Course, the amateur displays continued to blast away for at least five more hours. Mortars, Bottle Rockets, Roman Candles, 100 shot cake launchers filled the air with explosions and dropped ash and smoldering debris all over city homes. I watched as one of my neighbors decided it would be fun to aim his bottle rockets at the dry palm trees in the median strip running between our houses on Shannon Drive and West Third Street. That’s why I know for a fact that several of those bottle rockets hit another neighbor’s roof and one hit my car, thankfully without starting any fires.
Back when I was a kid the biggest fear from illegal fireworks were that you might blow your hand off by pushing your lucky lighting off a cherry bomb and waiting too long to throw it. Today, that same temptation to do something risky involves a twenty dollar mortar package that can’t be controlled once it leaves the ground and can easily set fire to a neighborhood and destroy someone’s home. I don’t know if people are just getting more stupid as I get older or now that I am a home owner, I understand the consequence of bad judgment. It’s pretty obvious that there is very little thought going into the decision to light off these explosives over a neighborhood of shake roofs. If our neighbors cannot to be trusted to respect other’s property, then it’s time to start limiting their ability to purchase these types of fireworks.
Where are all of these out-of-state fireworks coming from, you ask? That’s the newest development on the fireworks scene. It’s no longer a matter of traveling to another state or having a visitor bring them to you. Now you only have to sign on to the Internet. Once you are on-line, it’s actually hard not to find someone trying to sell you fireworks that you won’t find at the ‘safe & sane’ stand.
While the idiots that are lighting these fireworks show no signs of common sense or intelligence, the people selling these illegal fireworks online also don’t get that there are consequences for bad choices. A couple weeks before the Fourth of July, advertisements on Facebook and Craigslist started popping up with offers for illegal fireworks of all kinds available online.
“I’ve got the good-stuff from Nevada” one online dealer stated. This exception to Darwinism also used his real name and photo in the advertisement. The Tulare County Fire Department took advantage of that information by setting up a buy. The next thing this criminal realized, he no longer had any illegal fireworks to sell (all confiscated by the Fire Department). Facing time in jail, he gave up the names of everyone he sold to and those customers soon had knocks on their doors from Tulare County law enforcement and also faced hefty fines for possession.
After reading about that piece of preventative law enforcement, I’m wondering why didn’t law enforcement in Madera, Merced and Fresno County’s also jump on these ads and set up buys? Well in my neighborhood the biggest offenders are city employees. Though I will say that since I have been pointing out one particular city employee, his use of over head explosives has slowed down this last year. But there were four more neighbors in the area to take his place.
It is time for the Sheriffs and Police Chiefs from our three counties to put together a joint task-force to monitor these Internet advertisements and set up buys. If Tulare County can be proactive in trying to curtail the dangers these devices possess, why can’t our law enforcement do the same?
What will it take to stop these dangerous idiots from risking life and property? Do we have to outlaw all private fireworks, including the legal ones?
Call your local county supervisor or city councilman. Tell them that you are tired of living in a war zone one month out of the year. Do it before these idiots destroy someone’s home and life.