The Fourth of July is a celebration for the masses, and depending on where you reside it might just be a celebration measured by the inevitable nighttime light show. This presents a problem in Pennsylvania, where changing fireworks laws have left Pandora’s Box hanging wide open. One of the issues is that most people are ignorant of changes in the law since last year, but that pales in comparison to the bigger problem: many of the hottest brands have issued recalls for their products.
Old laws allowed Pennsylvania residents to buy fireworks that are branded specifically for consumer purchase. These typically contain less than 50 mg of explosives. Popular products are the ones you’ve heard of before: bottle rockets, firecrackers, and Roman candles to name a few.
Now residents will not be allowed to purchase anything that travels through the air — not at popular pop-up roadside tents, anyway. Instead consumers will have to head to brick and mortar stores to make their purchase. It’s not a coincidence, either. Many of these brick and mortar retailers sued the other suppliers based on “safety” concerns. They argued that the brick and mortar locations had tighter security and better safety measures in place than the tents.
Another facet of the argument was that brick and mortar locations couldn’t compete (in fireworks sales, anyway) with the pop-up tents because the latter have much smaller overhead costs.
Those who get their hands on legal fireworks can only set them off when they are at least 150 feet away from a structure designed for occupation. It is also illegal to use fireworks on private property without the owner’s express permission. You may get arrested for trying to use fireworks while under the influence, or for setting them off from the inside of a vehicle.
These are general state laws, but if you plan to enjoy your next holiday with fireworks you would be well advised to check with local laws and regulations. In many municipalities they remain illegal during certain times of the year.
Keep in mind that fireworks displays can be extremely uncomfortable for pets, and there is basically no way to protect them from the bright lights and loud noises they experience all night long.
Unfortunately, many law enforcement officials openly acknowledge how useless most of the laws and regulations actually — in part because so many people don’t know about them or openly ignore them, or because police are simply spread too thin to enforce them.