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VICTOR JOECKS: Clark County’s fireworks ban should go up in smoke

Celebrating America’s birthday could cost you $10,000 this year.

Clark County officials are now warning residents not to set off illegal fireworks this Fourth of July. Ground-bound fireworks are allowed, but those that shoot into the air aren’t. You know, the exciting ones. The ones that you see over the rooftops. The ones that dazzle and light up the sky.

It is illegal to sell projectile fireworks to the public in Clark County, but they are available legally in Pahrump. If police catch you with those fireworks here, however, they can now fine you up to $10,000. Previously, the fines ranged from $250 to $1,000. The amount of the fine depends on the weight of the illegal fireworks. For those caught with under 100 pounds worth, the maximum fine is now $1,000.

Incredibly, the county originally sought a top fine of $50,000. That’s what it requested during the 2021 legislative session. The Legislature then amended that proposal.

This would be shocking to the Founding Fathers. After the Continental Congress voted to declare independence in July 1776, John Adams wrote to his wife how Americans should celebrate the occasion. “It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more,” he wrote.

Don’t show that list to the busybodies running Clark County or they might faint.

Fireworks went off the next year to celebrate the country’s independence. “At night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks (which began and concluded with thirteen rockets) on the Commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated,” the Philadelphia Evening Post reported.

Using fireworks to celebrate the country’s birth has been a tradition for hundreds of years. And it’s wonderful. Fireworks exploding in the sky are a reminder of how many people love America and believe she’s worth celebrating. Fireworks also bring people together. It’s one of the few times people gather in their front yards instead of their backyards.

They’re also loud and flammable, which is the county’s justification for making projectile fireworks illegal. Fireworks do affect other people, sometimes in negative ways. But while the downsides are real, they’re often overblown.

The Fourth of July is hectic for firefighters, but every profession has busy seasons. Public servants are supposed to serve the public, not limit century-old traditions to make their jobs more convenient.

If Clark County were dry and heavily forested, then banning projectile fireworks could make sense. But the city isn’t in danger of burning up. That’s obvious from the number of illegal fireworks that are set off each year. The city is still here.

The noise concerns — for people and pets — are real. It’s why fireworks shouldn’t be tolerated throughout the year. But living in urban and suburban areas often requires trade-offs. Shutting down the Strip is a traffic headache, but officials do it for special occasions.

There are few occasions more special than celebrating the birth of the greatest nation in the history of the world. Let freedom ring and the fireworks fly.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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