Now that the smoke has started to settle, I thought I would share my perspective on fireworks within the state of Iowa. Fireworks have not been legally accessible to Iowans since 1938. My daughter may be surprised, but that’s before I was born! And speaking of my birth, let me share with you that I was born in Missouri, a state that has allowed their residents the freedom to purchase and shoot off fireworks for as long as I know.

I suppose that birthright and my upbringing in a rural area have combined into a scoffing at Iowa laws for most of my life. I have family living near Kansas City and frequent visits there marked my childhood. And with those visits, there were numerous stops at the fireworks retailers, which were concentrated (coincidentally, I’m sure) near the Iowa border. I remember talking to my cousins about fireworks in Missouri. I loved fireworks but they were fairly nonchalant about them. I spent a lot of time in various neighborhoods in fireworks-legal Missouri and never saw or heard any obnoxious displays. That’s not to say that people don’t misbehave in Missouri, but it does lend a clue about the behavior many in Iowa have been complaining about this year.

If Iowa were to follow the lead of other states with fireworks and make the sale and use legal year round, they wouldn’t be the special attraction they are in Iowa right now. Even if the state doesn’t make a change, I expect next year to be less rowdy as this year. Remove the stigma and you remove most of the problem. Not all, but most. That is my prediction. Future years will not be as crazy as the very first year people were able to purchase and use fireworks. And again, the problems will only be reduced further if the state grants the citizens the right to extend their freedoms to the point where the novelty is gone. Wow, that last sentence was hard to write!

Facebook has been crazy with people complaining about the behavior of their neighbors. They are shooting off fireworks beyond the approved hours. They are leaving the debris in public places or on the neighbor’s property. They are scaring pets. In short, they are being inconsiderate neighbors. The solution for inconsiderate neighbors is not to restrict the rights of responsible neighbors. The solution is to address the behavior. So I ask, why are people calling for all fireworks to be illegal in Iowa but nobody is upset that the local law enforcement hasn’t been addressing the poor offenders? Why is the first instinct to remove the legal rights of the (literal) silent majority who do follow good neighborly practices?

The problem is with the poor neighbors and the problem is with the mindset of many who are offended by them. There, I said it. Our culture is at its best when we are not rude to one another and perpetually offended by others while we overlook our own shortcomings.

One final note about my younger years and my fascination with fireworks, enhanced to be sure by the excitement of having something that the state I lived in thought shouldn’t be legal. I shot off fireworks frequently when I was young. I lived. I felt like James Bond. It was awesome. I introduced them to my son. We cleaned up after ourselves and respected our neighbors. I taught him to respect them and not to be stigmatized by them. The rest of Iowa will settle down about them if the Iowa legislature only allows us to get through the newness of this freedom that neighboring states have handled just fine all along.

Our Liberties we Prize and our Rights we will Maintain