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Is it Legal to Use Fireworks?

While lighting up fireworks during the Fourth of July holiday is a perfectly legal American pastime, it is important to understand that not all fireworks are created equal. In fact, some fireworks are illegal altogether. And, even if you are not using illegal fireworks, people are at a higher risk of injury when they are set off. 

Most Fireworks are Legal

Virtually every state in the nation, including Washington D.C., allows for some or all consumer fireworks that are permitted under federal law according to the American Pyrotechnics Association (“APA”). That being said, Massachusetts prohibits all consumer fireworks, no matter the type. Other states like Illinois, Ohio, and Vermont only allow novelty items like sparklers and not actual fireworks. 

M-80s, cherry bombs, quarter sticks, and silver salutes, however, are all classified as illegal in the United States. In fact, these explosives are banned by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (“ATF”). Despite their prohibition, these types of illegal fireworks are manufactured and distributed across the country every Fourth of July. So, if you come across these fireworks be sure to stay away. 

According to the ATF: 

“The explosive compositions in these devices are typically extremely sensitive to heat, shock, electrostatic discharge and friction that may initiate, unexpectedly causing serious injury or death. The risks associated with these devices are further compounded because the persons manufacturing, transporting and using these devices often do not have the knowledge, skills, and experience required for such activities.”

Americans Consuming More Fireworks

Because of the decline in public display of fireworks during the Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve, and other celebratory holidays, Americans are purchasing and using more fireworks than ever before. According to research, 404.5 million pounds of fireworks were purchased and used in 2020. This amount is over 1 million more than the year prior. Studies show that while the United States was experiencing COVID-19 induced lockdowns, Americans set off more fireworks than ever. Indeed, the 2020 consumption is nearly triple the amount consumed in the United States in 2000. Moreover, the use of professional-grade display fireworks dropped more than half in 2020 when compared to 2000. 

It is no surprise that fireworks sales in the United States is a billion-dollar business. Revenue for the industry, according to the APA, has grown significantly in the past 20 years. In 2000 Americans purchased $50.6 million worth of display fireworks and $102 million worth of consumer fireworks. In 2020, those numbers increased to $18.7 million and $385.8 million, respectively. According to the APA, the jump in sales can be tracked by 9/11 as well as advancement in pyrotechnics.  

Contact an Attorney


If you or someone you care about has been hurt in a fireworks accident in Nevada, contact H&P Law. Our attorneys can handle all of the aspects of your case so you can focus on healing from your injuries.

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