Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Do not Discharge Stink Bombs in Andover

I'm not a lawyer.  Let's start with that.

(Los Angeles, not Andover)
credit: Steve Isaacs
But I was, you know, browsing through the code of bylaws of Andover, Massachusetts, and a few things jumped out at me.  First, the prohibition on certain items of amusement in Article XII §39(c):
The sale, distribution and discharge of stink bombs, smoke bombs and aerosol silly string products within the Town of Andover are prohibited.
This is apparently not an uncommon kind of ban.  Silly String is also banned in Middleborough, among other towns, and notably in Los Angeles, though only on Halloween.  Stink bombs are banned in Oklahoma City.  And there's New Hampshire 2017 House Bill 100, which would provide an exemption for "toy smoke devices" on the apparently more general prohibition of smoke bombs.  I guess serious smoke bombs would still be banned.

I don't know of any other town that has banned all three.  But I didn't do the most thorough of searches.  Nor did I, in ten minutes of googling, see any codes that provided an exception like that of §39(d):
This by-law shall not apply to public safety personnel in the conduct of their duties.
(Don't worry, this was photoshopped)
credit: What_No_Cookie
So it's fine for a police officer to use silly string, as long as it's part of their job.  I don't know how often that comes up.  Maybe if they're demonstrating things you're not allowed to do?  "Hey kids, see this stuff I'm spraying everywhere?  This is Silly String.  Looks like fun, huh?  Well, you can't do this!  Also, drugs."

§39 was enacted in 1998, after the town "experienced severe problems" with these sorts of devices.  It's hard for me to imagine how tough it must have been back then; I wasn't living in Andover at the time, so who am I to judge?  One thing's for sure though, I haven't had any severe silly string problems since I've moved in.  So I guess the ban is working!

The rest of Andover's bylaws are, for the most part, as interesting as you would expect bylaws to be.

Awww yeah, candlepin.
Article XI §4, which allows the Selectmen to "grant licenses for the operation of bowling alleys on the Lord's Day between the hours of 1:00 and 11:00 p.m.".  I think that bit refers to "[Massachusetts] General Laws, Chapter 136, Section 4B", which doesn't seem to exist at the moment.  But it's probably talking about something in the Common Day of Rest Law, which goes on and on about things you're not generally allowed to do on Sunday in Massachusetts, at least not without a license: such as dancing in exchange for money, offering to watch people dance in exchange for money, and just generally conducting business.  I'm not a lawyer, and that whole law seems ridiculous, so I'm probably not reading it right.  Anyway, it's good to know that if there were any bowling alleys in Andover (there aren't) then they could operate on Sunday if they got the appropriate license.

What you can't get a license for, according to Article XI §8(a), is an "automatic amusement device [kept at a business and operated for hire] which presents a risk of misuse as a gaming device".  I'm not sure about "misuse as a gaming device".  Is this indicating that gaming devices in general are bad, and we wouldn't want anyone using a non-gaming amusement device for gaming?  Maybe the misuse is bad, but only the kind of misuse that can happen with gaming devices.  MGL Chapter 140 Section 177A seems to indicate that pinball machines are "automatic amusement devices", but I would assume using it as a gaming device wouldn't be misuse.

Somehow I think they had slot machines in mind here, but they also helpfully list characteristics associated with risky amusement devices.  If it has any of those characteristics, then no license for you.  For instance, any device that "involves matching, random numbers, patterns or cards".  Or one that "accumulates more than 26 plays" (26 seems like a strange threshold).  Look out for any device that's "equipped with a "knock off" switch, button or similar device", those also carry a risk of misuse, somehow.

Probably needs a rabies shot, though.
There is the bit where it says one may keep or board pet cows (part of Article VII §, which I guess is cool, and let me to discover in the Board of Health regulations that the "Keeping of Goats Permit" is only $30.

So in summary, I'm not a lawyer, but I think you can ride your goat to the bowling alley on Sunday.  And you can bring your Stink Bombs but you can't use them.  And, please, play pinball only in moderation.

No comments:

Post a Comment