Massachusetts Bill Would Threaten Jail Time For Using Fireworks In Some Areas

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Massachusetts is the only state in America where no form of consumer fireworks are legal.

A bill (H.3634) on Beacon Hill would amend the state’s firework ban — by increasing the penalty and making it a crime to use fireworks in high-density areas.

State Representative Rodney Elliott (D-Lowell) filed the bill. Under his proposal, anyone caught using fireworks in an area with more than 1,000 people per square mile would be fined between $200 to $500 and potentially face up to six months in prison. Under current state law, using fireworks carries a fine between $10 to $100, and no criminal penalty.

Here is the exact language of Elliott’s bill:


Whoever shall use or explode or cause to explode any fireworks in violation of this section in an area located in a census tract with a population density of 1,000 or more persons per square mile shall be punished by a fine of not less than $200 and not more than $500, or by imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or both. Any officer qualified to serve criminal process shall seize all of the fireworks mentioned herein without a warrant, and the fireworks seized shall, upon conviction of such violation, be forfeited to the commonwealth.


The proposal would not change the law in areas with a population density below 1,000 people per square mile.

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.

Elliott is the only sponsor of the bill, which has been referred to the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. It is not a re-file; Elliott is a first-term state representative.


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