Fireworks Laws By State

For those planning on setting off fireworks, it is best to get educated about the state and local laws regarding consumer fireworks.  It is better to know what you can and can’t do in your particular area than to get an unwanted visit from the police while you are shooting off your fireworks. You don’t want to be fined! In America, each state has the discretion to make different firework laws as they see fit for public safety. And, to make things more confusing, county, city and other local governments can override these state laws if they are making the regulations stricter. As a general rule of thumb, cities are stricter than counties and counties are stricter than states.  Even neighborhood home owners associations can have a say about how much fun you can have with fireworks, even in your own backyard!

Currently, four states outright forbid all types of consumer fireworks. Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York all specifically prohibit every type of firework -- even tame firework novelties and sparklers. A handful of other states allow novelties and sparklers, but will not let the general public use other, more powerful pyrotechnic items within the boundaries. The remaining states allow for the sale and use of fireworks with various exceptions depending on the state. For example, some may prohibit areal items while others may allow them. Some of these states also control the use of fireworks by limiting the selling periods. Often, the window of time that a firework seller can peddle his pyrotechnics may be limited the weeks or days leading up to major holidays such as the Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve.

There always seen to be loopholes around fireworks laws by state. For example, many states, even those that don’t allow for fireworks to be set off, have stores that sell all types of consumer fireworks.  These fireworks are sold to non-residents with the provision that they must be taken across state lines within in a specified time period – usually 24-48 hours. Often there is a “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude about selling fireworks to people in areas that ban them. Also, the reservation lands of many Native American Tribes sell fireworks to people passing through. Because the tribes are self-governed, they are exempt from following the fireworks laws by state.  Learning about fireworks laws by state will help your learn about what fireworks you can buy and where. The time you save on the hunt can be put into creating a spectacular show.