Once again the sky lit up with illegal fireworks Tuesday night. Lawmakers say they passed a new law that would hold homeowners and renters responsible for these fireworks. But just how effective is it?
Senator Karl Rhoads tells us the new fireworks law does address some of the difficulties in prosecuting illegal fireworks cases. But enforcement does prove challenging both on the federal and local levels.
“From my lanai, the whole horizon the whole angle from what I can see it was at midnight it has just gone off,” said Senator Rhoads.
Senator Rhoads says we need to wait and see if the new law that holds property owners responsible for any aerial fireworks helps.
“It’s probably too soon to say for sure whether it’s effective. I mean this is really the first big fireworks day of the year,” he said, “we probably need to go through one more big fireworks day see if it makes any difference and after that, we would have to decide what do next.”
Rhoads believes enforcement issues play a large part in how these fireworks are getting through customs.
“The United States in general checks a tiny percentage of what comes in. There’s so much trade between us and other countries that we can’t possibly look at every single container fully,” said Rhoads.
We learned the Legislative Reference Bureau recently updated its recommendations to an illegal fireworks task force report that was done in 2011. Rhoads says there weren’t many changes but agrees there are not enough resources to address the problem.
“I think that’s true both at the federal level I think looking at shipping containers and it’s also true at the local level. You can have 500 police officers out on New Year’s Eve and you can keep them busy the entire time with fireworks if you wanted to if you ignored every other crime that was happening,” he said.
We asked Rhoads about lifting the ban on aerial fireworks but he says he doesn’t see that happening because there are so many fireworks-related injuries and they don’t want to see that increase if there are no restrictions.