To the editor:
Iowans will gather with lawn chairs and blankets in their communities to enjoy firework displays during the Fourth of July celebrations across the state. This is part of annual traditions for many Iowans. Despite a bipartisan effort to modernize a six-decade-old law during the 2014 Legislative session, it remains illegal for Iowans to celebrate this revered holiday by displaying fireworks.
Earlier this year, a Des Moines Register poll indicated nearly 56 percent of Iowans support lifting the ban on the sale of legal fireworks.
Despite boasting bipartisan support in the Senate State Government committee, Senate File 2294 failed to become law. This is a policy we are committed to work hard to get passed when the legislature returns in January 2015. That commitment to modernize our state laws and legalize the display of consumer fireworks in Iowa is attributed to a majority of Iowans supporting such an endeavor.
Senate File 2294 had several provisions which would allow fireworks to be safely regulated. Those stipulations would include prohibiting minors from purchasing fireworks, giving local municipalities the ability to restrict fireworks and the fire marshal the ability to regulate fireworks in the case of droughts.
The fireworks ban was originally a result of a Depression-era fire created by a sparkler in the middle of a drought when temperatures were nearing 100 degrees.
There are also misnomers and myths surrounding the fireworks-related injuries. In fact, the number of fireworks-related injuries in the U.S. has decreased drastically — nearly 61 percent — from 1994 to 2011, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. This decrease in reported injuries is noteworthy considering the use of fireworks increased nearly 100 percent during the same time period.
We remind Iowans that as we near the celebration of our independence, fireworks remain illegal in Iowa. Roughly 42 states have legalized some form of fireworks. We encourage all those who wish to have the same freedom to display fireworks, to please contact your legislators and let them know it is time for Iowa to join America in celebrating our Independence Day with fireworks.
Senator Jake Chapman, R-Adel
Senator Jeff Danielson, D-Cedar Falls