Once again we have had to suffer the annual lunacy of people letting off illegal fireworks. Emergency Departments throughout the state and nation experienced their usual high incidence of burn victims on the night of the fourth and early hours of the fifth of July. When are we going to learn?

I have on a number of occasions suggested to West Jefferson’s alderman that our police be dispatched by cell phone rather than by radio. Many of those people letting off illegal fireworks are equipped with scanners, they cease with the fireworks until the police have come and gone, then they continue with the fireworks and have a good laugh at the expense of the police. If the police are dispatched by cell phone they are going to catch a number of these people in the act and could make arrests.

Now, why should it be necessary to curtail what has become a time-honored custom? Let me list some of those who are adversely affected: Vet’s suffering from PTSD, elderly people with dementia, people with autism, babies and young children who need a full night’s sleep, people who have to get up early for work and household pets, just to mention a few.

How can this be effectively dealt with? First the police should arrest the perpetrators if they are juveniles, then call the parents to the police station; if the parents are present arrest them, also. Police personnel should be instructed to deal with these situations seriously and not with an attitude of, “Oh well, I used to do this when I was a kid.”

As to enforcement, if adults are the ones letting off the fireworks they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If juveniles are the perpetrators and adults are present who are encouraging, enabling, condoning or failing to control the juveniles, they should be treated as perpetrators. Heavy fines are one of the greatest deterrents for these kinds of crimes, so I would hope the DA and his staff would also treat this matter seriously.

The illegal fireworks that are being let off in my locality are definitely not available in North Carolina, and so, not only is the activity illegal, but so are the fireworks.

Practically every community in the state has a controlled firework display. Ashe County puts on excellent display every year. Families can picnic in Ashe Park and enjoy a professional firework display without distressing others or the possibility of injury.

It is time for people to start being considerate of others and, for Pete’s sake, let’s grow up!

Mike Sawyer

West Jefferson

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