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Opinion: Banning fireworks throughout Lehi isn’t the right move

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We shouldn’t ban fireworks throughout the whole city. I know it isn’t the popular opinion and that’s ok. I understand that we are heading into the hottest month of the year, in the worst drought of recent memory. I am not naive to the dangers of fireworks. They certainly present a risk.

Risk is inherent in almost everything we do. Generations of government leaders have been tasked with balancing liberty and safety for the masses, as we all do in our own lives. I’m not going to argue that blowing off fireworks is a right, because it isn’t. Although it isn’t a right, it’s an activity that we should be free to choose to do or not do. Liberty and the right to choose our actions doesn’t allow for reckless behavior or being unaccountable.

For example, consider alcohol use. We allow residents to have the liberty to drink alcohol without limit as we should in a society that values personal choice. Do people abuse alcohol and drive on our roads? Frequently. Do people who abuse alcohol put others in danger while driving drunk? Frequently. Do people who drive drunk cause death and property damage to innocent people? Yes. We still allow alcohol and the individuals who abuse it face consequences. Fireworks are similar.

There is more to consider than the easy answer to “just ban all fireworks.” I won’t ignore the fact that the popular opinion is for the City to ban all personal use this year. That majority alone already significantly decreases the risk and use of fireworks this year. Those who support a ban will most likely not participate and will mitigate the overall risk. 

As for my family, we will obey the restrictions if they come. What about those who won’t? Or worse, defy the law in the spirit of being a rebel? Will the result be people trying to hide or move their celebration to more dangerous places because they are more private? This creates more risk for all of us.

What about the resources of our brave police and fire? We don’t have the resources to monitor every street and neighborhood in the community. Residents will be calling to report their neighbors all night, pulling resources away from more urgent or serious crime. Wouldn’t it make more sense to stage resources and personnel at our most vulnerable areas, like Traverse Mountain and the Dry Creek area? Fireworks are already banned there and for good reason. The focus of our resources should be those areas. 

I’m not a selfish or insensitive person. We moved to Utah from firework-banned California nearly a decade ago, where it sometimes seems like everything is banned. My grandparents lost their home in the Santa Rosa, California fire of 2017. My great-grandmother lost her home in the Paradise, California fire of 2019. I’m not oblivious to fire or it’s dangers, but I’m also a proud Utahn. I appreciate that our community is able to enjoy fireworks and the joy they bring to families. I appreciate elected leaders who value personal liberty and responsibility. 

I feel for small business owners and nonprofits who rely on firework sales to generate revenue for their families or organizations. Banning fireworks may only take some fun and tradition from us, but it takes much more from those small businesses.

Let’s be more creative in finding a better solution than the kneejerk response of  banning all fireworks. Maybe we can expand prohibited areas to allow for more secure buffer zones. Maybe we can look into decreasing the discharge date to only July 4 this year. 

I hope that those who would like to gather as friends and family to enjoy fireworks are able to do so in Lehi this year. We are a smart and respectful community who can enjoy and honor Independence Day and summer celebrations safely. To conclude, I would like to thank our brave fire department and all of those who work tirelessly to keep us safe. 

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