Nov. 3 elections: Use of safe and sane fireworks could go up in smoke if Fullerton voters repeal city’s 8-year-old law

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Image used with permission from Luke Weinrich.

Junior Luke Weinreich, who is in opposition of banning safe and fireworks, plays with sparklers in celebration of the Fourth of July this past summer in his neighborhood in Fullerton. Fullerton voters will decide on Measure U, which calls for the prohibition of the sale and use of these fireworks.

Michelle Sheen

The savory aroma of meat grilling in the front yard during a July summer day while patriotic music like “Firework” by Katy Perry or “Proud to Be an American” by Lee Greenwood plays around the house. 

Such festivities are capped off when the sun goes down, and the safe and sane fireworks like sparklers and fountain-lit noisemakers are brought out for the kids and other family members to light up.

That’s the kind of family tradition that junior and Fullerton resident Luke Weinreich has been participating in on the Fourth of July for as long as he can remember.

“We eat hot dogs and hamburgers and listen to patriotic music,” Weinreich said. “We have lots of fun when we also light up fireworks in the street when it gets dark.”

For Weinreich and countless number of Fullerton residents who commemorate the Fourth of July this way, the safe and sane fireworks portion of their day could go up in smoke this November if voters in the city choose to repeal Fullerton’s legalization of safe and sane fireworks. 

“I don’t think there are any major problems with using safe and sane fireworks,” said Weinreich, who opposes the measure and would vote against it if he were eligible to register and cast his ballot. “I would tell those who can vote to go against the repeal because banning safe and sane fireworks would ruin a lot of families’ traditions and make holidays like the Fourth of July not as fun for some people.”

Passed by a 3-2 vote during a July 21 Fullerton City Council meeting, Measure U calls for Fullerton registered voters to decide whether to amend the city’s code “to prohibit the sale, possession and use of any fireworks within the limits of the City of Fullerton.”

The Fullerton City Council decided to hold a general election for residents to decide whether to overturn the legislation passed in 2012, when voters legalized the use and sale of safe and sane fireworks in the city. Voting on this as well as other statewide and national issues and government positions will be held Nov. 3 at voting centers located in Orange County or through mail.

If passed with a simple majority vote, Fullerton will be removed from the list of current cities in Orange County that allow the use and sale of safe and sane fireworks.  

Councilman Ahmad Zahra, who was among the majority who voted for putting the issue to voters, said it’s even safer and saner to drop these fireworks from the city.

Zahra said the loud noise has the most negative impact on those suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, the elderly, dogs whose ears might be sensitive to the blasts and special needs children.

“Folks with PTSD often experience flashbacks to war zones and traumatic war experiences,” he said. “I received many, many calls and appeals from constituents who struggle with this, asking for a ban due to the excessive impact it has on their personal health or pets.”

However, councilman Bruce Whitaker, one of the two who voted against putting the issue to voters, said Fullerton residents should be able to light up these fireworks. 

“I am against the repeal because I want people to have a safe and sane alternative to illegal fireworks,” Whitaker said. “[Nonprofits] say that it is very important to have this as a fundraiser. … In many cases, it’s their largest fundraising effort of the year.”

He also said that banning these fireworks could negatively impact nonprofits as a large sum of their fundraising comes from the annual sale of safe and sane fireworks.

Unlike Weinreich, other SH students agree with Zahra and are hoping the measure passes.

Because he has registered to vote recently, senior John Kim, despite having used and seen the use of seen safe and sane fireworks in the past, said he plans on voting for this repeal.

“Since fireworks are mostly set off at night [in the summer], they are especially annoying,” Kim said. “My mom, for instance, usually sleeps early, around 8:30-9 p.m. When a firework goes off at around that time, it bothers her a lot.”

To add to the already bothersome situation, his neighbors’ dogs also become startled by the sounds.

“Even if they are safe and sane, some fireworks are really loud and bother the whole neighborhood,” Kim said.

However, other students are against the repeal of this ban as it could take away the fun of using such fireworks.

“They aren’t disruptive or threatening in any way, so there’s no harm in keeping them,” said freshman Irene Song, who has used sparklers before on a camping trip. “They’re pretty and fun to play with.”

No matter where residents stand on this issue, Zahra encourages those registered to vote to express their opinions on this matter by casting their ballots on Nov. 3 or earlier if they mail them.

“I just ask people that when they go out to vote, don’t think only of yourself, but think of your neighbors who are struggling and don’t really have much of a say in this,” he said. “If voters decide this is something they want to keep, we will do our best to make sure there is public safety and increase awareness.”