While the social media comments under Iowa news stories involving fireworks would lead you to think most people hate them, a recent poll conducted on behalf of Iowa Starting Line shows a majority of Iowans—of all political persuasions—enjoy fireworks being legal for personal use.
According to the poll, 60% of respondents think selling fireworks to the general public should stay legal. Republicans felt the strongest about it with 65% in favor, followed by 64% of independents, and 51% of Democrats.
Only 28% of respondents thought retail fireworks should return to being illegal, an opinion shared by 38% of Democrats surveyed. Just 23% of Republicans agreed with outlawing personal-use fireworks again, a view also shared by 25% of Independents.
About 11% of people across the board didn’t know if anything else needed to be done.
Data For Progress conducted polling for Iowa Starting Line and surveyed 637 likely voters from July 22 to 29. The margin of error is ±4 percentage points.
Retail fireworks were re-legalized in Iowa in 2017 after being prohibited for decades following massive fires in the 1930s in the northwest Iowa cities of Spencer and Remsen. Both blazes were blamed on fireworks.
The Iowa Legislature banned residential sales of them in 1938, making Iowa the first in the nation to take such a stance. The 2017 law that overturned the ban provided a framework for city and county governments to develop their own fireworks ordinances and gave communities discretion on whether or not to bring back combustibles.
In Sioux City, for example, residents may set off fireworks from 1-10 p.m. on July 3-4, and 1 p.m-midnight on Dec. 31 and until 12:30 a.m. on Jan. The city received about 600 fireworks complaints in 2021, according to KTIV, although a Sioux City Journal story noted it was about half as many this year.
As a business, fireworks seem to be booming in Iowa. There are 584 licensed fireworks retailers—this includes temporary stands and permanent buildings— in Iowa, according to the State Fire Marshal Division.
And although the American Pyrothenic Association does not track sales for individual states, the only three periods, so far, in which retail firework revenues have crossed the billion threshold—2019, 2020, and 2021—have occurred since Iowans were again legally allowed to see their money go up in smoke.
by Ty Rushing
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