Few things capture the obnoxiousness of a certain “love it or leave it” brand of patriotism like Iowa’s permissive approach toward personal fireworks displays.
Since state lawmakers reversed a statewide ban on fireworks sales in 2017, we’ve been through five summers where city dwellers who stay home have no choice but to endure nights and nights of loud bangs leading up to the Fourth of July — and that annoyance is if they’re lucky.
It’s more than an inconvenience to veterans for whom explosions can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. To families whose small children are terrified (or even just disturbed from sleep, presaging a week or more of trying to restore a carefully cultivated nighttime routine). To pet owners who can’t help animals understand what’s happening.
It’s exasperating enough that those intrusions on other Iowans’ well-being aren’t viewed as justification for leaving fireworks solely in the hands of professionals. But we haven’t even broached the physical harms.
In 2020, smoke stayed trapped over Des Moines well into July 5, exceeding national fine particle standards and prompting warnings for children and people with respiratory conditions to stay inside. Finally, there are the injuries. Every year, University of Iowa researchers trumpet the figures — that Iowa’s largest trauma centers treat twice as many serious injuries from fireworks each year as they did before the law changed, that the rate of injuries to children went up even further, and that amputations have become more common.
Maybe the medical professionals need a different promotion strategy. Perhaps a novelty firework depicting a handless arm? Nationwide, at least 18 people died from fireworks injuries in