Knightly: Boom! Our neighbors in Vegas are not happy

Brace yourself Pahrump, our neighbors to the east are pissed.

I spent part of the Fourth of July on the observation deck of the Eiffel Tower Experience in Las Vegas and that valley was lit with fireworks.

From my 360 degree vantage point, 460 feet up at 9:30 p.m., I could see what are illegal (there) fireworks launched from across the valley in a steady stream of bursts.

The mostly tourists on the deck thought it was an amazing sight, and it was. All I could wonder is, “How many of these were bought (legally) in Pahrump?”

On Tuesday, stories started to hit the news and social media outlets in Clark County decrying the amount of illegal fireworks used during the holiday weekend. The Las Vegas Fire Department responded to 112 calls involving fireworks. That doesn’t include calls Clark County, Henderson and North Las Vegas had to field.

Wednesday night I received a message from a friend and former co-worker asking if I was doing a story about “the outrage in Las Vegas this year over the amount of illegal fireworks” and how he thinks “this year was a tipping point and something needs to be done.”

This came after Las Vegas resident Mike Henle posted on Twitter an open letter to elected officials in Las Vegas and Clark County bemoaning that Fourth of July celebrations “were dominated by illegal fireworks ” bought in Pahrump and from the Moapa band of Paiutes.

One of Henle’s suggestions is to require legal fireworks businesses here to check driver’s licenses and nullify sales if they live in Clark County.

I responded that this would have to come from the state because I can’t envision Nye County officials passing any ordinance that would economically hinder a legal business.

I will be watching the 2017 Legislature to see if any new bills are introduced trying to implement something to that effect, or any other legislation trying to curb the fireworks industry in Pahrump and Nye County.

I haven’t heard any public officials in the Las Vegas Valley make a comment on this year’s Fourth, but they’re coming. Last August, the Clark County Commission discussed the issue, with Commissioner Larry Brown showing the kind of arrogance people in Pahrump are used to from Clark County.

“I don’t see the purpose of allowing these in any county if they’re illegal here,” Brown said at the Aug. 18 meeting.

So, if it’s illegal in Clark County, the rest of the state needs to fall in line?

Brown then said, “I’d at least take a look at trying to identify where they’re coming from … I’d be interested in if we can start attacking the source point of sales.”

But in the intervening 11 months, no officials from Clark County had any official contact with officials from Pahrump or Nye County. I expect more grandstanding by public officials over there in the weeks to come.

I’m not trying to downplay the seriousness of the issue in Clark County, after all I have lived there for 26 years. The situation of illegal fireworks in neighborhoods can get out of hand in a hurry. But pointing the finger at Pahrump or the Indian reservation is misguided.

Police and prosecutors in Clark County need to start addressing the issue there. Start arresting people using the fireworks. Have laws that have teeth and fines that might make people think twice and use them.

Next July 4, arrest or cite the users of illegal fireworks, and make a production of the effort. Parade it on television and in the Las Vegas media.

In other words, Clark County needs to police Clark County, not Pahrump.

Arnold M. Knightly is the editor of the Pahrump Valley Times

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