Responding to a recent change in state law, Louisville Metro Councilwoman Madonna Flood, D-24, has sponsored an ordinance banning the sale, purchase and possession of fireworks in the city.
In March, Governor Steve Beshear signed a bill making it legal to sell and use fireworks that shoot into the air or explode such as firecrackers, bottle rockets and Roman candles, but local governments have been moving to ban the use.
The ordinance would prohibit the use of those dangerous fireworks in the city limits unless by anyone except a licenses professional. It would allow adults to use consumer fireworks such as sparklers but would make it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to handle any fireworks.
Flood says fire departments are concerned about the new state law and misuse of fireworks poses a significant danger to the public, particularly property damage and personal injury.
“A lot of these are highly explosive,” she says. “They leave the ground and they can cause serious (injury) and even death to people who are using them or bystanders. There are people who know how to use those mortars and canons to shoot them off and I don’t think the average citizen knows how to use that.”
Fines for violating the ordinance would range from $250 to $500, and fireworks confiscated by Metro Government officials would be destroyed. The city bill will be debated in the public safety committee Wednesday, but few council members have had a chance to read the bill and have declined to comment.
Critics have cited the state’s inability to enforce the law, residents going to bordering counties to buy fireworks and whether they have posed a serious threat locally. Councilman James Peden, R-23, who chairs the committee, has also voiced previous concerns about the legislation, but was unavailable for comment for this story.
Flood says Peden’s opposition is based solely on his personal use of fireworks and not the larger safety concerns.
“The only person I have heard who is not going to vote for it is James Peden because he wants to be able to set off fireworks. At a council meeting he said he likes fireworks and wants to be able to set them off,” says Flood.