Quail Creek [QC] residents experience a wonderfully unique lifestyle from most, which includes the right to shoot off fireworks. This freedom has resulted in some audaciously large & beautiful private displays that have brought great joy and wonder for many of us!
However, a growing contingent of McLendon-Chisholm citizens would like for the City to follow through on a failed 2015 ordinance that would have banned fireworks inside the city limits because every year there are more incidents where injuries to people or damage to property is reported.
Law of Unintended Consequences
Restrictions like firework bans have proven to do little more than rob responsible citizens of liberty. That’s because those for whom such laws are intended (the most careless and irresponsible when shooting off fireworks, to begin with) are also the least likely to adhere to such ordinances.
Taking away freedoms for all doesn’t turn disrespectful people into being more accommodating, it just makes them more vigilant to avoid getting caught by authorities. So to criminalize an activity in a largely rural area where the majority of citizens practice safely, responsibly, and with respect to others is misguided.
A Costly Mirage of Enforcement
There are also practical challenges that go beyond the added costs for policing violators, not to mention the distraction this has on officers. As with a traffic ticket, a law enforcement official must observe the violation to issue a citation. Most are surprised to learn that firework debris was strewn about the front lawn of a home, a handful of eyewitnesses to the act, or even video footage is not enough, which is why these laws are so difficult to enforce.
Support in QC For A Ban
Historically, most in QC demonstrate care & respect for neighbors when shooting fireworks. However, actions by a few have soured many from wanting to see the practice continue. In addition to shooting fireworks well past midnight, or during the workweek (on days other than July 4th or New Years’), the biggest homeowner complaint is waking up the morning after to find firework debris on the roof, in the pool, & littered all over the yard.
Firework Debris Is Litter!
It’s reasonable to expect that the clean-up of firework debris that finds its way onto neighboring properties should be the responsibility of those who shoot them off.
Unless we put our name on each piece of the ordinance we fire, there’s simply no way to know if the debris on our neighbor’s property belongs to us, or the neighbor ten houses away. And why should that matter? After all, in Quail Creek, everyone is our neighbor.
Day & Time Matters
Most of us need to be up early for work on weekdays and many young children are already tucked away in bed well before 10 pm.
There are also many QC families with dogs that are terrified when fireworks go off, where unexpected fireworks displays can be more than an annoyance. One family’s dog ran away when an unannounced fireworks display went off in the middle of November!
Outside of July 4th & New Years’, it should be reasonable to expect that fireworks would be limited in their use here in QC, not by some arbitrary HOA rule or law, but by common sense and fundamental respect for others.
We Can’t Fix Stupid or Inconsiderate
We shouldn’t need new laws or HOA restrictions to tell us that shooting off fireworks late at night or in the middle of the workweek is inconsiderate. We can, however, reinforce a culture where respect for our neighbors comes first because, for most in this community, they do!
Just as there are still those who drive 3o mph or more down our streets, there will still be those who continue to shoot off fireworks at two in the morning, and a new law will not prevent this from happening.
Remember too that a child’s actions are the responsibility of the parent. Therefore the expression that “kids will be kids” doesn’t excuse us from their poor choices if they should carelessly shoot off celebratory ordinance in mid-September or drive 40mph down our streets.
The Irony of Restricting Liberty on July 4th
Thomas Jefferson said, “I prefer dangerous freedom to peaceful slavery.”
Where liberty abounds we become dependent on the good nature of our neighbors to be considerate, but I think it’s a worthy tradeoff for freedom.
In light of this let’s all exercise our liberty in a respectful manner as we celebrate our nation’s independence!
-Bob Steinhagen, Quail Creek HOA President
Steinhagen has served as a City Council Member and Mayor of McLendon-Chisholm and is now a political broadcaster for Rockwall County as Bunker Bob on The Bunker Bob Show.