DES MOINES, Iowa — As Des Moines winds down its summer activities, one city official says it’s time to change the way we handle a certain summertime tradition.
“We have a law in place that we’re unable to enforce,” says Ward 3 councilman, Joe Gatto.
Gatto says it’s time for Des Moines and other cities in the metro to reconsider their bans on setting off consumer fireworks.
He says state legalization and subsequent legislation to prevent cities from banning fireworks sales on commercial properties, has made it impossible for local police to enforce the bans. He says that trying to do so simply diminishes respect for the law and keeps police from handling more important calls.
Gatto says despite hundreds of calls to the police (nearly 300 on July 4th alone) there were zero citations handed out. He says police should focus their enforcement on city parks where fireworks cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage each year and not worry about other calls.
“I think we look pretty ridiculous, at this point. That’s why we need to take a look at it collectively — the entire region needs to take a look at it, it’s not just Des Moines.”
“The law’s not going to get changed at the Statehouse; fireworks aren’t going to go away.”
Gatto brought the matter before the Des Moines City Council last week but says he didn’t hear much support from his colleagues. He says recent changes to zoning laws will only expand fireworks sales in Des Moines, and make the ban more difficult to enforce.