Rebecca Dioso says the legal fireworks Michigan residents are allowed to shoot off before and national holidays “sound like mortars” and are “triggering flashbacks” for her husband, a war veteran suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
The Brownstone woman and more than 9,300 people have signed a petition on MoveOn.org to repeal the 2011 law that allowed Michigan residents to possess consumer fireworks.
“For PTSD survivors, it’s a nightmare,” Lori Fromm of Rochester Hills agreed, saying people set off quarter sticks of dynamite as part of holiday revelry. “I felt like I was in a war zone.”
Denise Hammond of West Bloomfield Township started the petition last week after her relative said the fireworks were so disruptive they’d never visit from Texas on a holiday again, the Detroit Free Press reports.
She and others supporting the petition say the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, revised in 2013 to allow powerful pyrotechnics that rival professional displays on 10 national holidays, and the two days sandwiching them, is being abused. Fireworks are being deployed beyond the hours and days allowed in the law, they said.
What have you experienced in your neighborhood now that more powerful pyrotechnics are legal on holidays? Should the law be modified or repealed?
“There were still fireworks explosions going off last night (Saturday, July 12): that's 11 straight days! If I wanted to hear explosions every night I would move to Iraq or Syria,” said Theodore Wizenberg of Farmington Hills.
The idea behind the law was to create tax revenue and more jobs, but the residents signing the MoveOn.org petition say residents are paying too high a price.
Charles P. Hall of St. Clair Shores said Michigan legislators “chose to put dollars before the health, safety and welfare of Michigan residents.”
“Safety act?” said another St. Clair Shores resident, Cynthia Mossner. “There is nothing safe about allowing fireworks in residential neighborhoods in the hands of untrained users. The law is not being followed the police can’t/don’t enforce it. Please repeal now.”
Timothy Kingsbury of Dearborn said that individuals have the right to freedoms until those freedoms infringe on the rights of others.
“If I choose to be live quietly, it does not affect my neighbor, but if I choose to make noise it may affect my neighbor's right to quiet,” he wrote on the site. “If people want to be surrounded by noise, then go seek it out where the majority want it.”
Like others, he complained about the safety and littering issue, noting that more than “90 percent of the junk that is launched into the air does not fall back on the launch site.”
He also worries about fire because some of it falls while still burning or without yet exploding.
Ron McLeod of Birmingham said he’s not only tired of the noise and waste, but he also worries about fire hazards associated with teh explosives. “Bonehead politicians only care about money,” he said.
“... Mark my words, eventually someone's house is going to catch fire and it won't be the home of the people lighting the fireworks, it will be mine or one of my other neighbors who were innocent bystanders in the whole thing,” wrote Nancy Silwinski of Brownstone. “Please make the law that the only people who shoot off fireworks are the professionals and in designated areas on designated days. I am not against fireworks in the proper place at the proper time overseen by professionals, just this free-for all that fireworks in Michigan have become.”
The comments on the petition site mirror those police officials throughout Michigan are receiving.
Livonia Mayor Jack Kirksey told the Free Press his city’s police department has received more than 100 complaints since early July about fireworks that rattle windows and cause loud booms well after midnight, but very few of them have resulted in arrests because the activity ceases when police get near.
“Our little dog is a nervous wreck,” Kirksey said. “He goes into our shower stalls and quivers in the corner.”
In Royal Oak, the City Commission has already gone on record asking the Michigan Legislature to repeal the law. In a statement last spring, Mayor Jim Ellison said the state law usurps local officials’ authority.
“The loss of local control on this important issue risks the quality of life and safety that our residents expect us to preserve,” Ellison said in a statement. “The irony of the Michigan Fireworks ‘Safety’ Act is that it allows for the storage of explosives next to our homes and businesses.”
Repeal of the law is unlikely, Rep. John Walsh, R-Livonia, told the Free Press.
“There’s been enough acceptance on the part of most citizens. But certainly, there could be more local control added,” he said.
Rep. Harold Haugh, D-Roseville, the sponsor of the law, said he understands the criticism and dislikes fireworks himself, but said they have brought jobs and sales-tax revenue to Michigan.
“We’ve revised this law three times now, and we’ve given the local communities as much control as I could get passed. I think people are getting the message” to use fireworks responsibly, “but you can’t legislate against (being) stupid,” he told the Free Press.