From the Constitution of the United States: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
I mention our Constitution because I love the liberties and the freedoms we enjoy in America. Recently, we celebrated Independence Day. There have always been fireworks displays, such as the one we have at Lake Tobesofkee every year. It’s a good time for kids and adults alike and it is very appropriate to do so. Unfortunately, this year the Georgia Legislature passed some legislation that is void of common sense, and House Bill 110 has negatively impacted our domestic tranquility. Let me explain.
HB 110 that went into effect July 1 states that it is now lawful for any person 18 or older to use any consumer fireworks on any day between the hours of 10 a.m. and midnight. That’s right, 365 days a year beginning at 10 a.m. Additionally, HB 110 has made it lawful to use or explode any consumer fireworks on up until 2 a.m. on Jan. 1, July 3-4 and Dec. 31 of each year.
Included in the definition of fireworks are the words torpedoes and bombs. So, if you thought the fireworks were louder than ever, you were right. Many citizens have complained about the excessive noise in their neighborhoods at all hours. Some have reported that fireworks rattled their windows. This new law has affected the safety and tranquility of our citizens, including babies, children, adults, seniors and our pets. There were countless reports of pet dogs so terrified that they ran right through invisible fences. Some of these family pets are still missing and at least one was killed at a railroad track. Of course, the family was devastated.
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Here’s the kick in the teeth. Almost buried in HB 110 on the next to last page is the following language: “The governing authority of a county or municipal corporation shall not prohibit the sale or use or explosion of fireworks unless authorized by the state of Georgia.” The Georgia Legislature has usurped our authority to decide what our citizens would like, such as the hours fireworks can be exploded. We have no say as to whether we want them used in our neighborhoods and we have no say as to when they can be used.
It’s hard to fathom, but sadly, it is true. Personally, I don’t believe fireworks belong in our neighborhoods. I believe fireworks should be restricted to limited hours and limited occasions and in designated areas only.
At the very least, our local government should be able to decide according to the desires of our citizens.
If you agree that our local government should have the right to decide, then please write or call the Macon delegation and let them know. The local delegation consists of Sens. John Kennedy, Burt Jones and David Lucas, and Reps. Robert Dickey, Allen Peake, Nikki Randall, James Beverly and James “Bubber” Epps.
Please be civil and respectful, for we will be better received with that approach. We have really good folks in the state House and Senate who care about the folks in Middle Georgia. When the Legislature reconvenes in January, please ask them to re-visit HB 110 and amend it so we have local choice regarding the hours and location of the use of fireworks.
Mallory C. Jones III, is the Macon-Bibb County District 4 commissioner.