Map shows states where fireworks are legal or illegal on July 4, 2024 (2024)

U.S.

By Emily Mae Czachor

/ CBS News

Fireworks have become a staple of July Fourth celebrations across the United States, where towns and cities often host professional shows to mark the occasion each year. In some areas, smaller displays of less powerful fireworks pop up at private holiday parties. For people wondering where fireworks are legal —and where they're illegal— nationwide, here's what to know.

Full list of U.S. states where some fireworks are legal

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has banned several types of fireworks —like M-80s, cherry bombs and anything else that contains more than 50 milligrams of pyrotechnic material— at the federal level, but state and local regulations can be more complicated. To varying degrees, certain types of fireworks are legal in 49 states, plus Washington, D.C.

Here's the full list:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Washington, D.C.
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

The one U.S. state where all private fireworks are illegal

Massachusetts is the only state in the U.S. where it is illegal to sell, use or otherwise possess fireworks of any kind as a private citizen. Many communities across the statehost public fireworks displays at their July Fourth celebrations. But without a license and permit, the statewide law prohibits fireworks of all kinds, including sparklers, firecrackers and any other comparable device that's been designed to produce "a visible or audible effect," according to the state government.

The fireworks show in Marblehead, Mass. was canceled because the fireworks barge caught fire in the early morning hours Thursday. No one was aboard the barge at the time and there were no injuries, officials said.

"There was a fire on the barge in the middle of the night," organizers said in a statement. "The fire marshal won't allow our vendor to perform any fireworks until determination of how the barge was able to catch fire."

The ban has existed since 1943, when state legislators amended an earlier set of statutes that previously allowed civilians to buy, sell and use certain kinds of fireworks for displays. When they enacted the fireworks ban, it was among an overhaul of measures enacted in response to World War II, some of which were billed as "emergency" orders meant specifically to remain effective as long as there was a potential enemy threat. But the the consumer fireworks law stayed in place after the war.

Despite periodic calls from within Massachusetts to lift the ban, officials say it continues to be necessary and have ramped up enforcement in recent years because illegal fireworks are prevalent. Between 2013 and 2022, Massachusetts fire departments reported almost 1,000 fires linked to illegal fireworks displays, in addition to 47 injuries — the majority to firefighters — and $2.5 million in damages, according to the state.

Map shows states where fireworks are legal or illegal on July 4, 2024 (1)

States where some fireworks are legal but many are restricted

Numerous states and Washington, D.C., restrict the sale, possession and use of consumer fireworks, even though professional fireworks displays are allowed with the appropriate licenses and permits. Those states are:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Wisconsin

Illinois and Vermont have stricter laws than the rest of the U.S. In those states, only sparklers and "novelty" smoke devices are up for sale to the general public. A "novelty" device is one that contains "small amounts of pyrotechnic and/or explosive composition" but does not technically meet requirements to be considered a consumer firework, according to theAmerican Pyrotechnic Association.

InIllinois, novelties include snakes, glow worm pellets, smoke devices, party poppers, snappers, trick matches, and "other devices in which paper or plastic caps containing twenty-five hundredths grains or less of explosive compound are used," per the state law banning most consumer fireworks.

The laws are similar in Vermont, where certain sparklers and novelty devices are allowed, provided that the sparklers contain 20 grams or less of pyrotechnic materials and the novelties contain 0.25 grains or less of explosive mixture, according to theOffice of the State Fire Marshal.

States that let counties determine fireworks laws

Hawaii, Nevada and Wyoming allow counties to determine whether fireworks are legal or not within their individual jurisdictions, as well as which kinds of fireworks are allowed and exactly when and where people can buy, sell and use them.

In Hawaii, concerns over public safety prompted legislators in 2010 to pass a law that gave counties the authority to set stricter regulations for consumer fireworks than the ones established at the state level. It allowed, for instance, the City and County of Honolulu to broadly prohibit the sale, possession and use of all consumer fireworks except fire crackers — which can be obtained with a permit. But the ordinance doesn't apply to other counties.

Similar laws have been passed by state legislatures in Nevadaand Wyoming to give local officials control over fireworks in their areas. In those states, consumer fireworks may be legal in one county and banned in another, and some counties restrict buying, selling and using fireworks to specific times on designated days of the year.

Even when consumer fireworks are generally regulated by the state, people may find themselves in a town or city in Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, Nevada or Ohio that has more stringent fireworks laws than its neighbors. And, in places like Illinois, setting off fireworks is only allowed in counties that have passed an ordinance to permit it, including on private property.

What are non-aerial and non-explosive fireworks?

Most of the states where some but not all fireworks are legally accessible to civilians limit what's allowed to non-aerial and non-explosive fireworks only. Sometimes called "safe and sane" fireworks, these typically refer to devices that don't explode or fly. Because they contain lower amounts of combustible material than other fireworks, officials say they are also less likely to cause injuries or damage to property.

In wildfire-prone California, purchasing fireworks is illegal unless their packaging explicitly bears a "safe and sane" seal. Afireworks education site operated by the California fire marshal's office lists sky rockets, bottle rockets, Roman candles, aerial shells and firecrackers as a few examples of fireworks that have been banned statewide in accordance with "safe and sane" standards, along with "other fireworks that explode, go into the air, or move on the ground in an uncontrollable manner."

A growing number of California counties have outlawed fireworks altogether. Violators could faces fines and or jail time.

Why do some states ban certain fireworks?

Most states that place restrictions for civilians on the sale, possession and use of fireworks say the risks of injuries and property damages are their main reasons for doing so. In a number of those states, officials also cite the increased likelihood of wildfires sparking and potentially spreading in an area where fireworks have been set off.

In California, as the weather remains hot and dry this week, fire officials are issuing warnings about the use of fireworks, which are illegal in several counties. At least two brush fires in the Bay Area may have been caused by illegal fireworks in the past few days. In San Francisco, all fireworks are illegal.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said it received reports of eight deaths and an estimated 9,700 injuries related to fireworks in 2023 alone. Of the eight deaths, five were associated with fireworks misuse, two with device malfunction and one was unknown.

How to report illegal fireworks

States and counties across the country encourage people to report any instances where they suspect illegal fireworks are involved, and many ask their residents to file those reports to their local fire departments or law enforcement agencies. People can also report illegal fireworks activity to a hotline at the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which is responsible for regulating all explosives, including fireworks.

    In:
  • Fireworks
  • July 4th

Emily Mae Czachor

Emily Mae Czachor is a reporter and news editor at CBSNews.com. She covers breaking news, often focusing on crime and extreme weather. Emily Mae has previously written for outlets including the Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed and Newsweek.

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