Casper Vice Mayor Shawn Johnson Supports Using Fireworks in City, Contrary to County-wide Ban
Contrary to the ban on fireworks within Natrona County, Casper's vice mayor Shawn Johnson promoted setting them off within city limits, he told K2 Radio on Thursday.
A resident told Johnson that plenty of places trust their citizens to enjoy the Fourth of July by igniting fireworks, according to an email exchange obtained by K2 Radio News and confirmed by Johnson.
Johnson told the resident, "you should light them off anyway! Independence Day is about disobeying ridiculous laws! FREEDOM!!!!!"
The resident responded he'll be at Johnson's house to do just that. "Nothing makes a statement better than a politician standing up against ridiculous laws!"
However, Natrona County and Casper don't consider the fireworks ban ridiculous.
At a work session on June 11, council members rejected a proposal by Ken Bates to loosen Natrona County's ban on certain consumer fireworks -- sparklers, smoke bombs, poppers and similar nonaerial fireworks -- within city limits as long as their ignition is on a concrete pad with water nearby.
Most council members disagreed.
Mike Huber said Natrona County imposed the ban on those fireworks in 1980 because of the calls about fireworks-cause fires were astronomical. After the county ban, Casper followed suit and the number of calls and the fires dropped, he said.
Casper Fire Chief Tom Solberg and others wrote a memo to City Manager Carter Napier about the ban, its effect and the consequences of changing it.
"As the City of Casper and surrounding communities have grown, our exposure to homes in the wildland-urban interface has also increased," Solberg wrote. "The complexity and resource demands in this interface firefighting environment have increased exponentially."
Professionally-produced fireworks displays are allowed at certain events, such as the July 4th show at the Casper Events Center, but the producers must obtain a permit with strict rules to protect spectators.
Thursday, Johnson asserted his opposition to the ban, he told K2 Radio. "I want to be on record saying there are several 'fireworks' that can be used in a city and are designed for a city and those things should be legal."
His view that igniting these types of fireworks within city limits does not violate the oath he took when he was sworn in to serve on the council, he told K2 Radio. "I took an oath to support the constitution period...that’s my justification And I am against any law that violates that."
Johnson said a local store sells such small fireworks, although that could not be immediately and independently confirmed. That store also sells cigarette lighters which throw a bigger spark than poppers, but no one is upset about that, he added.
"I think reasonable fireworks should be allowed, poppers, those ones that blow out confetti after you pull a string, sparklers Those should definitely be allowed. The bigger ones should be allowed depending upon the climate that year," he told K2 Radio.
"I advocate for individual freedom period."