Where is it legal to buy and sell?


MIDDLE SMITHFIELD, Pa. – There it was at the end of the aisle in the supermarket, just a few miles from the New Jersey border: two large floor displays with fireworks, Roman candles, bottle rockets and other fireworks. Collect, pay and enjoy was the unspoken message.

On the west side of the Delaware River, it is legal to purchase consumer-grade fireworks. There are even year-round stores just off Route 80 exit 310, the last one before the Garden State, where such products are the main business. The aisles and shelves are filled with things that make ‘boom’, often late into the night.

But east of the river in New Jersey, about the biggest allowable noise maker would be a sheet of bubble wrap.

The only retail “explosives” allowed under New Jersey law are poppers and paper “caps.” Sparklers and other wearable novelties are also allowed. But if you want to move something bigger, you will need a valid permit from your local municipality.

Do you live closer to the New York border? In fact, in much of the Empire State, those are sparkling devices verboten.

They may be allowed, but are they safe?

Of course, there are more than just legal considerations to take into account. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 11 fireworks-related deaths were reported in 2022 and 10,200 people were taken to the emergency room with injuries. Children aged 15 and under accounted for 28% of these injuries. Nearly 40% of the damage consisted of burns.

The committee urged consumers to “leave fireworks to the professionals or take steps to celebrate safely using consumer-grade devices.”

“Consumer fireworks” are the small items usually sold at stands around the 4th of July holiday. According to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which oversees the sale and use of explosives, these include ground- and hand-held devices that contain less than 50 milligrams of flash powder and aerial products that contain less than 130 milligrams of powder. .

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Are fireworks legal in New Jersey?

Whether you purchased fireworks legally in Pennsylvania or elsewhere, New Jersey law only allows the use of portable and ground-mounted sparklers, as well as other “novelty items” such as snakes and fireflies; smoking devices. Trick noise makers, including party poppers, snappers and drop pops, are also kosher. Devices that fire paper shells may also be used, but must not resemble a firearm.

It is also legal to purchase these products in the Garden State, but only if you are 16 years or older.

Everything else requires a valid permit, which must be issued by a municipality and approved by the local police commissioner and fire department.

Possessing, selling, or offering illegal fireworks to someone under the age of 16 in New Jersey can result in a charge of a fourth-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine. Buying and lighting fireworks without a permit can lead to a minor disorderly conduct offense, which carries a 30-day jail sentence and a $500 fine.

Pennsylvania’s fireworks laws are more relaxed

Under a 2018 law, Pennsylvania opened the legal sale of fireworks that meet the definition of consumer grade (also known as “Class C”). That includes fireworks, Roman candles, bottle rockets and similar products containing less than 50 milligrams of explosive material.

Before 2018, the state allowed the sale of such items to non-residents of the state, but not to locals. That created the confusing situation where New Jerseyans could legally buy fireworks in Pennsylvania but couldn’t use them at home, and Pennsylvanians couldn’t buy them at all.

The change six years ago kept in place the ban on the sale of the more powerful devices commonly known as Cherry Bombs, M-80s, Quarter Sticks and Silver Salutes. Although these devices are highly sought after, they are illegal under both federal law and state statutes.

Pennsylvania also imposes a number of common sense safety rules: Fireworks may not be ignited or discharged on public or private property without the permission of the property owner; they must not be directed at any other person, building or vehicle; They may also not be discharged or ignited within 50 meters of a building or vehicle, regardless of whether either is owned by the fireworks user.

And it goes without saying that the law prohibits the use of fireworks by anyone under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

When are you allowed to light fireworks? It depends

At the local level in Pennsylvania, municipalities can pass laws to restrict the use of consumer fireworks between the hours of 10 p.m. and 10 a.m. However, under state law, these time limits do not apply on July 2-4 and December 31, when fireworks can be set off. used until 1am

And because the Fourth of July falls on a Thursday this year, the state says consumer fireworks can be used until 1 a.m. on the Saturday and Sunday immediately preceding and following the holiday.

New York’s rules are the strictest

The strictest state of the three is New York, where only “sparkling devices” are legal unless local authorities have banned their use or sale.

New York defines “sparkling devices” as ground- or hand-held devices that produce a shower of colored sparks or flames, an audible crackling or whistling sound, and smoke. The law limits such devices to devices containing less than 500 grams of pyrotechnic material.

Counties that have banned the use and sale of sparkling devices include those in New York City and on Long Island; Westchester County; and the cities of Middletown and Newburgh in Orange County.

For those traveling further north, sparklers are also banned in Albany and Schenectady counties in the Capital District and throughout Warren County, including Lake George and Glens Falls.

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