Fireworks are so synonymous with the Fourth of July that they feel as American as apple pie. In actuality, these celebratory sparks are heavily regulated from state to state and not legal everywhere. And, by the way, here’s why we set off fireworks on Independence Day in the first place.
Where are firework illegal
There’s actually only one state that completely bans all consumer fireworks. That’s Massachusetts. However, they do permit fireworks display put on by professionals, so you can still catch a show for the Fourth of July. Ohio, Illinois, and Vermont also have extremely strict laws when it comes to fireworks and only allow wire or wood stick sparklers and other novelty items. If you live in one of those three states, make sure to carefully read the guidelines and laws for your state before you light anything. In these areas, it’s probably best to head to the best Independence Day firework display in the state.
So, which are the states where fireworks are legal?
Forty-six states plus Washington, D.C. allow consumer fireworks in some form but, again, exactly what that form is varies between states. For example, Indiana has relatively lenient laws compared to other states. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, the following are permitted in the Hoosier State: “Consumer fireworks that comply with the construction, chemical composition, and labeling regulations of the U.S. Consumer Products Commission.” However, you must be 18 years old to purchase them and there are time limitations as to when you can use them. Fireworks can only be set off between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. on non-holidays but can go on until midnight on special occasions including July 4, Memorial Day, and New Year’s Eve.
Other states where fireworks are legal and have more relaxed laws on what consumers can obtain include Missouri, Pennsylvania, Texas, and South Carolina.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, California is one of the states where fireworks are legal but within stricter limits. Ground and hand-held sparkling devices are a-ok, as are “cylindrical and cone fountains, wheel and ground spinners, illuminating torches,” and certain flitter sparklers. Anyone 16 years or older is able to purchase those, but only between noon on June 28 through noon on July 6. Not legal are things like firecrackers, roman candles, chasers, wire and wooden stick sparklers, and skyrockets.
For simple breakdowns, these are the states where fireworks are legal by category:
States permitting a majority of consumer fireworks:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
States permitting the sale and use of fireworks that are non-aerial and non-explosive:
- New York
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- District of Columbia
And, hey, if your state has strict fireworks laws, leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals and find a professional display to enjoy, like these 10 of America’s most spectacular Fourth of July fireworks shows.