The Fourth of July is right around the corner, which means it’s time to stock up on your party supplies. For most of us “stocking up” simply means heading down to the local grocery store to buy every last hot dog, bun, chips and dip we can get our hands on, but for some of the more ambitious in the crowd that also means purchasing pyrotechnics.
But purchasing fireworks isn’t legal in all 50 states. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, “47 states plus the District of Columbia allow some or all types of consumer fireworks.”
“Some” is the operative word in that statement. Sure, it seems like a buzzkill to not be able to purchase sparklers, but those limits are in place for our safety, according to the APA.
“Safety must always be the number one priority when using fireworks,” Julie Heckman, the executive director of the APA, told USA Today. “It is important for individuals to know what is legal in their area and to obey local fireworks laws.”
For example, the sale of any and all consumer fireworks is banned in Massachusetts, Delaware and New Jersey. In Illinois, Iowa, Ohio and Vermont only wire or wood stick sparklers and other novelty items are permissible for sale.
But, in other states like Rhode Island the law gets a bit tricky. In the smallest state in the union, people over the age of 16 can purchase “hand-held and ground based sparkling devices including fountains, illuminating torches, wheels, ground spinners, flitter sparklers, sparklers & novelties devices,” but cannot purchase “aerial consumer, display fireworks, and pyrotechnics,” according to the APA.
And in California, the country’s most populous state, consumers can legally purchase “ground and handheld sparkling devices,” but cannot purchase “firecrackers; skyrockets; rockets; Roman candles; chasers; all wire and wooden stick sparklers; surprise items; friction items; torpedoes; firework kits and fireworks containing arsenic, phosphorus, thiocyanates magnesium (magnesium-aluminum alloys are allowed); Mercury salts; picrates or picric acid; gallates or gallic acid; select chlorates; boron; titanium (except particle sizes larger than 100 mesh); zirconium and gunpowder.”
As USA Today reported, some neighborhoods may have their own specific fireworks restrictions so it’s important to check with your local town hall before setting off any pyrotechnics this Independence Day.