Zeke Corder

Zeke Corder is the author of Zeke’s Corner, a regular column in the Kuna Melba News.

Many families were able to enjoy a wonderful family-together day this 4th of July. The day is designed to celebrate our independence from the rule of monarchy.

The celebration has become traditionally conjoined with the Star Spangled Banner and the firing of fireworks. Both these events are more directly related to the War of 1812. In the midst of that combat, Francis Scott Key observed the firing of artillery in a major battle in that war. This combat inspired him to write what became our National Anthem, and for us to associate fireworks with our independence.

An order to reduce accidents during professionally-fired fireworks shows developed. While not accident-free, professionally-fired shows typically have trained pyrotechnicians and most often fire departments standing by in case of accidents. Still individuals enjoy firing their own fireworks. Tragically, Independence Day is not a happy celebration for many; it brings only memories of past tragedies.

In an effort to help decrease the number of such accidents, most states and locales have implemented controls on the sales and use of fireworks. In Idaho, only “safe and sane” fireworks are allowed to be fired. However, there is money to be made from the “unsafe and insane” fireworks. Some enterprising legal authority determined that having people sign a promise to not use certain fireworks within state borders circumvented the laws against their sale.

So-called illegal fireworks are fired off, often profusely in most every neighborhood in Idaho. Accidents occur. Injuries occur. Look at the damage one illegally-fired bottle rocket wreaked on the Boise foothills last year. Homes are destroyed. Crops are destroyed. Lives are destroyed. Why don’t the police stop the illegally-fired aerials?

Police are required to observe the freedoms guaranteed us by our Constitution. They cannot search our persons, our vehicles or our homes without just cause to do so. Warrants are required. Judges do not grant warrants on conjecture.

To simply say “I know Jack Smith bought illegal fireworks, so I assume he is firing them” is not adequate for a judge. Catch Jack Smith in the act of firing aerial fireworks and he can be arrested or fined.

So, police are stationed on every corner in every neighborhood and on farms and ranches to observe? Not possible. The limited number of officers available can only cover so much area. Unless they observe someone firing the illegal fireworks with their own eyes, it is difficult or impossible to fine and/or arrest someone.

In the opinion of our state attorney general the sale of illegal fireworks is not circumvented by the loophole. However, it is up to a court or legislature to adjudicate that. I believe that time has come. It is time to outlaw the sale of illegal fireworks in Idaho. Maybe we should outlaw the sale of all fireworks. An opinion is that the apartment fire in Boise this year may have been caused by a “safe and sane” firework thrown into the air landing on a second-story deck.

If all personal fireworks are banned, only professional shows can continue. Laws could be implemented to train and license pyrotechnicians. Many are trained and licensed, already. For years I was involved in firing the show in Melba, and other shows. Lloyd Stubbs arranged for me and most others involved in his shows to receive training and be licensed. This was not a requirement by law, but a program Lloyd implemented in cooperation with his supplier. It was a worthwhile program.

We all know that in many cases, those firing off the aerial fireworks are less than competent and/or sober enough to do so. On a 4th of July in midweek, such as this year, many had to get up and be ready for work on July 5. Illegal, aerial fireworks continued in Kuna until 3 a.m. at least. Getting to work may not have been a pleasant task.


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