Today’s Westside Story is simply a slightly modified copy of a letter I sent to City of Lakewood Officials regarding their upcoming hearing and vote related to outlawing fireworks in our city. My letter follows:
To Whom It May Concern:
While I understand the argument that igniting explosive fireworks is good clean fun for Americans who celebrate the Declaration of Independence, it is a fact that many who breathe our Lakewood air lack the common-sense, courtesy, and intelligence necessary to deal with fireworks in a safe, sane and legal manner.
Last year a neighbor, acting like a goofball, came close to setting my property on fire when his party shot fireworks from the middle of a city street over our 7′ fence into our fir trees with two large rockets landing on my roof. Fireworks also fell into my neighbors’ property. Had this inconsiderate neighbor set my fir trees or other abundant vegetation on fire, my home and its occupants, which are surrounded by trees and vegetation, could have burned to the ground.
Fortunately, I no longer have a combustible shake roof, but rather a standing seam metal roof. The burning fireworks created a large burn stain on my metal roof as it burned itself out on top of my house with us sleeping inside late at night.
Anyone of us, including several neighbors, could have been injured or killed with the burning fireworks falling from the sky. We were held prisoners in our own homes daring not to venture outside, except quick trips to check for fire.
The offending neighbor had two guests / relatives attending his dangerous fireworks party. One was a policeman (Not Lakewood Police). The other was a fireman.
When I confronted my neighbor regarding my safety concerns, he bragged about having police and fire on the scene, and thus stated he was doing nothing illegal. He refused to stop.
Because there are ignorant, dangerous idiots mixed in with our general population, Lakewood City Council needs to do the right thing, the intelligent thing, to protect our community. Private fireworks needs to be outlawed in our city every single day of the year.
When these arson happy trouble makers attacked my house, 911-Dispatch reported to me that Lakewood Police did not have the staffing to respond to fireworks complaints. That fact forces the possibility; private citizens will arm themselves to confront stupidity to protect lives and property—what a recipe for disaster.
If our city and our police are not able or willing to solve the fireworks problem, then when under attack, some citizens may choose to fire back using illegal fireworks of their own aimed at the offender’s home, trees, or the offender. There is a distinct possibility a victim may choose to up the ante with superior firepower. Superior firepower means the suspect brought fireworks to a gunfight.
One might quickly respond with the the thought that the victim neighbor should not stoop to the suspect’s behavior to avoid becoming just as bad as the suspect. The counter to that is, Why not? The victim has to protect his family and property and the police are not going to show up for a fireworks complaint anyway.
When you think about it, this should be the responsibility of the city and our police, not untrained citizens.
In the likely event, Lakewood does not make fireworks illegal all year long then the city should fund extra police patrols to ticket offenders along with confiscating violator’s fireworks for unlawful and dangerous fireworks behavior.
While my opinions are strong, my statements are based on what I saw and learned during my 25 years as a police officer going to dispatched calls just like this.
A superior way to solve a problem is to avoid the problem in the first place.
Lakewood City Council, please have the courage to do the right thing. Outlaw private fireworks in the City of Lakewood.
END OF LETTER.
Ms. Briana Schumacher, City Clerk of City of Lakewood has informed me that the fireworks hearing has been moved to Monday, June 1, 2020. I do not know the time.
If you, like me, consider this to be an important issue because you detest cruelty to animals, unnecessary injury and death to adults and small children, unnecessary property destruction, tree fires, having your home destroyed, and unnecessary litter, than seriously consider attending the meeting to share your opinion with our city council.
If your schedule does not allow you to be a meeting attendee, the City of Lakewood has encouraged citizens to send their comments and concerns to: Ms. Briana Schumacher, City Clerk City of Lakewood. 6000 Main Street SW, Lakewood, WA 98499. Phone: 253-983-7705. Email: BSchumacher@cityoflakewood.us. She will distribute your letters and comments to the council membership.
Amen. These clowns are always all rights and no responsibility.
Bob Warfield says
Thank you, Joe Boyle, for stimulating other responsible citizens to join your advocacy for a municipal ban of fireworks in Lakewood. With numerous public displays available to muster celebration amid our increasingly urban habitat, it absolutely makes sense to get serious about applied restrictions.
Positive benefits abound: no more dueling displays across Lake Steilacoom, cringing elderly steeling themselves through three days of mayhem, missing fingers, embarrassingly explained in later years, ridiculous clutters of debris abandoned in neighborhood rights of way over scorched asphalt.
One may acknowledge the fun of fireworks from youthful days of rural climes. But density’s demands strongly suggest it’s time to put popular, too often reckless, fireworks on the shelf wit BB guns and slingshots.
Linell Jones says
Good luck but don’t expect a single piece of action. My house WAS burned down July 2, 2007. (Bottle rockets on the roof) My yard has been set on fire twice over the years. We live where we have 2 Psychiatric hospitals as well as an entire city filled with vets, many of whom suffer from PTSD. Poles are filled with “lost” pets notices of animals who also suffer from the explosions and noises. The resources of our fire department is stretched. Law enforcement of the current bans are non-existent and after years of writing the council about these issues and being totally blown off I gave up with the only logical conclusion being the don’t want to alienate those testosterone lacking fools making up for their insecurities by blowing up stuff. Don’t even try to tell me that it has a single thing to do with celebrating ‘murica becase IF it were they would be attending actual celebrations. How much would you like to bet there will be no attempts at discussing city sponsored or supported activities? So, as I have had to do for years I won’t be able to leave my home from the day the firework stands (which ARE approved by the city) open until the 7th and will be on fire watch with no nightime sleep.
Katherine Knudson says
I completely agree, Joe! As a former Lakewood resident, the noise/mess was unbelievable. Now, having moved to the City of University Place, it seems as though the fireworks struggle has follow me here. I had exactly the same experience and response from University Place Police and Fire last year as you did: no response from either entity to my calls on July 4. NONE! It is totally time to change and enlarge the fireworks ban.
Get over it. Fight fire with fire. Stop being a grinch and have some fun. While i can’t say that people are always safe with their fireworks, you can’t punish everyone for the actions of a few. You have the right to life liberty and the persuit of happiness, but the second your persuit of happiness interferes with mine, we got a problem.
P Rose says
Firing RPG’s in neighborhood calls for 12ga. response. Being/feeling treatened by someones actions constitutes assault, which is a crime, and self defense is appropriate.
Unsilenced Voice says
What a simpleton barbaric response. Good luck with that, Neidermeyer…!
Having to deal with a dog that is prone to seizures from fireworks, I unfortunately am all for a total State ban on fireworks, despite it being one of Our Nation’s greatest pastime.
Your oafish irresponsible response is half the problem with our society, and I strongly suggest you reach out for professional help with your issues.
Not a bad idea
Barlow Buescher says
On July 4 we take \our dogs up into Mount Rainier. We cannot walk them there as the roads are too busy and dogs are not welcome on the trails, but at least they’re safe from the terror of the fireworks. We usually hide out in the park until well after midnight. Even coming home at 3 o’clock AM there is enough particulate matter in the air to set off my asthma. The rest of the stretch while people are exploding fi Inreworks, we barricade ourselves in the house trying to minimize the anxiety and terror of our companion animals with drugs we know are detrimental to their well-being.
Most of the offending ordinance is already illegal either in magnitude or in duration. I do not understand why or law enforcement people cannot enforce the laws around this issue. Even if there was allowance for 4 July, it would be nice if the dogs and veterans would not have to be continually terrorized for weeks on either side of the 4th.
I hope local law enforcement will not give up on enforcing the code around driving while intoxicated simply because and overwhelming number of people violate the law.
Alan Hart says
Joe, I agree with you, however, fireworks have strong lobby which seems to overawe city council. One of primary arguements is that a ban is not enforceable, do we should not try.
Joan Campioin says
I am in agreement with all of the above contributors and have also experienced many of the same things.
For years we never ventured away from the house on or over the holiday for fear of fire. I had to tranquilize several of our dogs and they responded differently for the veterinarian given medication. One I almost lost.
Neighbors across the street years ago setting off fireworks not only sent the things across and on our house and into the yard. Fortunately they went against the brick facing.
In 2000 Millennial celebrations on New Years Eve another neighbor across the street had a party going on and they sent the big ones that landed just outside my side bedroom window and caused my dog to freak out and begin running. The tags on her collar caught somehow on a floor vent and she ran through the house freaked out with this chunk of metal hanging from her collar until I was able to catch her and calm her. The next day there was debris all over the the back of my house and on and over the roof , which shows how far they flew.
We got a metal roof after that.
Why the council continues to appease the “fund raising” of whomever at the expense of it’s citizens has never made sense to me. Also I might add, that all around us cities have banned the use of fireworks so that gives implied invitations “ya all come” to Lakewood where the fools can do as they please without repercussion.
Paul Nimmo says
The one common complaint that has been mentioned is the reckless disregard for ones neighbors as well as firework type.
I lived in Tacoma when the ban started, and have worked in Tacoma for the additional 20 years since the ban. This has NOT stopped the use of fireworks!
“Firecrackers, bottle rockets, missiles, and rockets are legal to possess and discharge on tribal lands ONLY”, yet Joe’s very complaint of a rocket only proves that bans do not work. That which caused him great concern IS ALREADY ILLEGAL.
Times of discharge is also one of the most major complaints. Yet, the City already has attempted to control this with very specific hours, yet we know those are ignored.
We know bans work right? Prohibition was a huge success in America. The war on drugs, such a success, proof being that Marijuana is now legal. Don’t forget the proposals for safe injection zones. When Marijuana became legal in this state, enforcement was transferred to what was the Washington State Liquor Control Board. Now it is the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. What was removed, the word “control”.
Control is at least a possibility. Sorry that I believe the we can safely use cones and sparklers. I also make sure I buy these safe items from one of the many non-profits that are selling these items to fund the other good things they do for our community all year long.
What I do agree is that more funding should be made available for specific patrols to enforce the already in place laws by the City of Lakewood.
Mike Brandstetter says
Heed Joe’s example and send a written public comment to the city clerk no matter what your take on this issue. That is how your views will be officially on record when the City Council holds its hearing and considers actions.
Love you Joe. I will only be satisfied when the insanity ends.
Interesting. Much of this could also apply to gun control!
Joseph Boyle says
Thanks for commenting.
While I am not exactly certain what you mean, based on my assumption of what you are saying, I wish to share the following reactions predicated on the fact that there is a huge difference between fireworks and firearms.:
(1) Fireworks are designed for fun, pleasure, and celebration. Used intelligently and legally, I see no harm and could support not outlawing or banning fireworks.
Unfortunately, our society is riddled with idiots who prove to be a danger to themselves and others.
(2) Firearms are nothing but a tool designed as a delivery device. If an evil doer tries to rob, rape, assault, kill, kidnap or …, a victim at risk can use the firearm to deliver a small projectile that discourages the felon from harming the innocent further. As my dad always said, a firearm is a great equalizer.
(3) The Second Amendment to our Constitution guarantees our right to possess and bear arms.
(4) There is no Amendment to our Constitutional that guarantees our right to possess fireworks.
(5) Firearms can be used as entertainment, sports, hunting, collecting, and most importantly, self-defense. If cops can’t be on the scene every time or any time to handle something as simple as a fireworks complaint, why would anyone think cops will be on the scene when someone is threatening to take your life. A potential victim needs to be responsible for their own defense. A firearm can prove to be a big help in that regard regardless of size, age, gender, or physical disability.
Larry King says
If fireworks are outlawed, only outlaws will have fireworks.
Joseph Boyle says
You point made, while comical, is also accurate. The key to this and many other situations is to set reasonable rules and then ENFORCE THE RULES WITH CONSEQUENCES.
Society is full of sick excuses.
Joe, what about my right to free expression? If I want to celebrate with legal fireworks I am entitled. Guns kill more people then fireworks. And yes, there are those who don’t handle fireworks correctly, but what about those who don’t use fire arms correctly? When I overhead a man in the grocery store saying it they can’t get what they want during this Covid19 emergency they’ll go home and get their guns and take it. This comment was about rationing toilet paper purchases.
Joseph Boyle says
You are on target on one point and I believe we could find agreement. Neither fireworks, which you should have a right to enjoy for free expression, nor firearms, which the constitution guarantees we can possess, are the problem. Fireworks and firearms cause not a single problem, death, or injury.
It is ignorant people, evil people, mentally defective people, careless people that are at the root of most problems causing fireworks and firearms to catch all the blame.
Our ability to enjoy fireworks as a form of free expression is something I can support until the free expression endangers people and property.
Our ability to possess and use firearms is something I can support until the possession of firearms endangers people and property.
If an individual threatens to shoot someone over a roll of toilet paper, the individual should become the recipient of consequences for outlandish and unlawful behavior.
The problem is consequences are far and few between. Most bozos have no fear because they do not believe anyone will do anything about their behavior. Currently, they are right about that most of the time.
Thanks for being willing to share your thoughts.
I agree. That’s the beauty of our country. We can agree to disagree. It’s those who don’t care about the others who ruin it for those of us. My father and brother were hunters but would never carry their gun for any other reason. My father in law while a law abiding citizens accidentally shot the chair my mother in law had just vacated. I have a healthy fear of guns.
Joseph Boyle says
It is certainly understandable how your life experience lived vicariously through your in-laws’ experience with guns, would shape your fear of firearms.
I have two reactions to your bullet in the chair incident you might find intstructive.
Without knowing your inlaws and based on your description of the gun incident, I can present a mighty defense for your father-in-law.
In the previous century, I taught classes on personal safety and gun safety.
During class I would ask, “How many in the class have had firearms training?” Several with a background in hunting or prior military service would raise their hands.
I then asked, why have you others not raised your hands? They insisted they had no firearms training.
I begged to differ with them. They all; we all, have thousands of hours of firearms training. It is called TV, movies, and as a kid, playing cowboys and Indians. Thousands and thousands of hours of firearms training via film, teaches viewers, probably including your father-in-law, to put their finger on the trigger, first thing.
For decades the action shows taught viewers to hold the gun up near their head and to put their finger on the trigger. Holding the gun up near your head provides a better camera angle for more dramatic action.
There are 4 firearm safety rules. If everyone practiced these 4 rules, then your mother-in-law and her chair would not risk being shot.
(1) Treat all guns as if they are loaded at all times.
(2) Never point a gun at anything you do not want to shoot or destroy.
(3) KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOU ARE ON TARGET AND READY TO SHOOT. (Index your finger along side the firearm above the trigger guard, until ready, instead.)
(4) Be sure of your target and the backstop beyond.
Had your father-in-law not suffered from thousands of hours of bad TV & movie training combined with not having been taught the 4 firearm safety rules, the “accidentall discharge” would not have happened.
I am happy your mother-in-law got out of the chair. She proved timing can be everything.
I hope I have provided some thoughts to ponder.
Your firework use impedes on my constitutional rights.
I agree with you whole heartedly. I am also concerned about many of our veterans who are suffering from PTSD. I can not even contemplate what the inconsiderate noise is like for them.