Does Lighting Fireworks Constitute Free Speech?

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

180px-San_Diego_FireworksWe wish you a festive and joyful Independence Day and pose a question to you. Does the use of fireworks constitute protected free speech? We revisit this issue from a previous article of last year.

A tradition spanning multiple generations in the United States is that a large portion of our society celebrates and shows tribute to the United States through the lighting and observance of fireworks. Yet numerous municipalities and counties impose sweeping and total bans of fireworks. Some statutes regulate the type of firework allowable, such as those having a ferocity that safety requires certified technicians. Others ban benign devices such as snakes and small fountains.

But does a complete ban on fireworks regardless of size constitute an infringement on the first amendment rights of citizens?

Municipalities having such total bans often provide or at least facilitate public exhibitions of professional fireworks displays. An esoteric argument can be made that such locations may constitute an exclusive free-speech zone permitted by the state whereas the private celebrations and expressions on private property by individuals are not permitted.

The usual argument for fireworks prohibition is that fires result from their usage and the state has an interest in preventing accidents. But can the state argue that the danger is so inherent that all fireworks must be prohibited; thus removing this free speech right?

What do you think?

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

31 thoughts on “Does Lighting Fireworks Constitute Free Speech?”

  1. Factory workers in China are being poisoned with industrial chemicals in the making of our fireworks. Additionally, there are occasional factory explosions (and resultant deaths) in Chinese fireworks factories.

    It is unethical for us to purchase fireworks.

    And no, it is not a First Amendment issue. If I can sue my downstairs neighbor and get a nuisance injunction over their loud cuckoo clock (yes, I did this) because it constitutes a nuisance at law, why should I not be able to get a nuisance injunction against a neighbor who sets off loud fireworks which are so loud that they invade my peaceful enjoyment of my home?

  2. Carl-Edward, laws against murder are also a form of social control. Shall we get rid of those too?

    My neighbors shot fireworks last night almost into my window. I went out there and we had words and they took their fireworks and left. If they return tonight, I am calling the cops and I expect them to hand out tickets for big fines, as well as making them disperse AGAIN. If I did not have cops to call, I would go out there with a gun. They are dangerously close to my window and I have the right to protect my property. Is that what you prefer, an ammunition-loaded free-for-all??

    As for the “evil” EPA, look at China. Is that the kind of industrial progress you want? What stands in the way of America’s industrial progress is the 1% taking their manufacturing to the cheapest countries on the planet – and our politicians giving them tax breaks for outsourcing our jobs!!

  3. There should be no ban on fireworks. This is yet another form of social control. Equally, there should be no ban on the burning of dead leaves: the scent is a poetic and melancholy farewell to the memory of summer.

    The EPA must be abolished, and all the legislation it has passed since its inception, repealed. It is an organisation that stands in the way both of industrial progress and innocent human pleasure. It is yet another legacy of a vile excuse for a president (although most of them have been vile).

  4. Fireworks are going off in my neighborhood now. We are close to July 4th. Some guy robbed a store and the folks nearby thought the gunshots were fireworks and no one called the cops. When the cops came the robber fired a bottle rocket up in the air and they did not stop him but went on to look for a gun guy. This all just happened and might make CNN tomorrow.

  5. Based on Supreme court rulings in Buckley v Valero and Citizens United – if money is free speech, then ipso facto, why not Ready, Aim, Chicago Fire Works?

  6. Skaterdude: still laughing at your riposte. It would be a dull world without comedy!

  7. “When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.” – P. J. O’Rourke.

    “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” – Amendment IX – Non-Enumerated Rights (1791).

    Don’t like fireworks? Put earplugs in your ears. Better yet, I’ll put ’em in my own ears, so I won’t have to listen to the bourgeois elite who want to turn the USA into a national mental institution where everything is banned lest anyone get so much as a paper cut.

    Do you live in a city/state that ‘bans’ fireworks by the plebes? Pull out your earplugs and take a listen tomorrow night IN YOUR OWN NEIGHBORHOOD. See how how the plebes feel about your ‘ban’.

    (PS. Could bouncing lasers off the sky be effectively used as a form of ‘silent’ fireworks?)

  8. Just ask NFL player Jason Pierre Paul about the danger of fireworks.

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