Massachusetts Bill Would Legalize Some Fireworks

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Massachusetts is unlike the rest of the country.

The Bay State is the only state where no forms of consumer fireworks are legal.

That could change in this legislative session if one bill on Beacon Hill passes.

The proposal — “An Act Relative To Novelty Sparklers,” filed by state Senator Michael Moore (D-Millbury) (SD.1561) — is not a bill designed to legalize all sorts of fireworks. However, it aims to exempt a few types of fireworks from what the state considers illegal fireworks. The rest would remain illegal. 

The bill would do so by amending Chapter 148 Section 39 of Massachusetts General Law.

It would amend the sixth paragraph of the statute that would legalize sparklers and other small fireworks such as snakes and smoke bombs. 

Here is the part it wants to add to what the state permits:


wood stick or wire sparklers of not more than 100 grams of pyrotechnic mixture per item:  other hand held or ground based sparkling devices which are non-explosive and non-aerial, sometimes produce a crackling or whistling effect, and contain 75 grams or less of pyrotechnic composition per tube or a total of 500 grams or less for multiple tubes, snake and glow worms, smoke devices, or trick noisemakers which include party poppers, snappers and drop pops, each consisting of twenty-five hundredths grains or less of explosive mixture


Fireworks have been illegal in Massachusetts since 1943. Along with bonfires, the state outlawed them during World War II to keep the sky dark at night. The purpose was to make it more difficult for the Germans to bomb American cities. That never happened and the ban stayed in place after the war ended.

Supporters of legalizing fireworks say that freedom includes using fireworks, that legalizing them would bring jobs and revenue to Massachusetts, that people use fireworks in the state regardless of whether or not they are legal, and that legalizing fireworks encourages safe use, decreasing injuries. The fireworks industry in Indiana, a state with about 200,000 fewer residents than Massachusetts, creates about 4,000 seasonal jobs in a typical year, according to Indiana Public Media.

Opponents of legalizing fireworks argue that they are dangerous, that they cause preventable injuries and fire damage, and that loud fireworks bother pets, children, and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey explained to NewBostonPost in 2020 why the Massachusetts Fire Service opposes any changes to the current law.

“The Fourth of July holiday is a busy time for firefighters,” Ostoskey told NewBostonPost in an email message. “We are supervising the professional displays so that they are safe for spectators and licensed operators. While there may be fewer of these shows this year due to social distancing, we are busy responding to all types of fires and medical emergencies. In fact, the week of July Fourth is one of the busiest times of the year for fires. Firefighters, police officers, and medical professionals all ask you to help us help you during this pandemic, and leave the fireworks to the professionals.”

This marks the fourth straight session where Moore filed the bill. It has never come up for a vote.

Moore and Ostroskey could not be reached for comment on Monday or Tuesday this week.


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