Council rejects looking into making fireworks legal in Lawton again

Council rejects looking into making fireworks legal in Lawton again

LAWTON, OK (TNN) - Fireworks will continue to be illegal in the city of Lawton after council members discussed possibly changing the ordinance to make them legal again at Tuesday’s city council meeting. If all council members approved, city staff would have been asked to update an ordinance allowing the sale and setting off fireworks in parts of the city.

Councilman Caleb Davis and Councilman Sean Fortenbaugh brought the item to the council. Councilman Davis said besides roads, people from all wards talk to him about wanting to shoot off fireworks in designated areas of the city and buy them in Lawton again. He said there are many aspects of this issue to look at from enforcement to liberty, to our kids.

"Do we want our kids to not ever pop fireworks because the government said the citizens are too irresponsible, but we, the almighty, all-knowing government, we know how to set off fireworks so we're going to take this over," Councilman Davis said.

Back in November of 2013, the city council passed an ordinance which made selling, shooting, or having an open container of fireworks illegal. Councilman Jay Burk said he remembers going to Elmer Thomas Park to shoot off fireworks.

"But we didn't do it anymore because it tore up Elmer Thomas Park because people parked everywhere and left all of their cars there,” he said. “So, we went to the lake and caused the exact same thing to happen at the lake. So, folks, this is not something we need to change."

Councilman Randy Warren, who voted against it, said residents in his ward contacted him about this item on the agenda which was added just Monday afternoon.

"Every single person that contacted me, after this agenda came out, was not in favor of revisiting this issue,” Councilman Warren said. “I did not have one single person say 'man, that's great. Get behind that'."

Multiple members of the Lawton Fire Prevention Division attended the meeting because of the agenda item. Fire Marshall Mark Mitchell told the council the number of calls the police department has received about fireworks has been cut in half if you compare the number of calls in 2013 to those in 2018.

After much discussion, councilman Davis told other council members that he doesn't want to waste the staff's time if they're not interested in changing the ordinance.

"So if you're going to vote against in the end, the Lake Lawtonka fireworks being allowed, I'd say go ahead and give me the bad news now," Councilman Davis said.

The council came down to a tie vote and Mayor Stan Booker broke the tie by voting against having staff look into the item further.

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