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Happy 4th of July! Where you can (and can’t) use fireworks on Independence Day

Looking for the best place to buy and use your fireworks for the 4th of July? Then you’d better check your state laws. Because, depending on where you live, you might not be able to buy any fireworks at all. Take Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, or New York for example. In these states, even tame sparklers and novelties are banned.

Thankfully though, there are many other places in America where you can enjoy your own personal fireworks. Some states—such as California—allow you to set off the sparklers and novelties that New York expressly bans, but the bigger, flashier, more dangerous fireworks are only legal in authorized public displays. Of course, other states (like Texas) are much more lenient. They allow the general public to buy and use the more spectacular kinds of fireworks (with certain exceptions, of course. You can’t very well throw your own Macy’s Firework Spectacular).

Often, what a state does is allow “safe and sane” fireworks. This term varies by your city or local area, and, if you’re planning on throwing your own light show, it’s best to check with your local government. In some places, vendors may even be restricted to certain dates of the year on which they can sell fireworks.

All of which got us thinking: what states are the best to obtain and use fireworks? Though there are many states that have comparatively relaxed fireworks laws, here’s a sampling from different regions of the United States:

Of the states in the midwest, Missouri is among those with the most freedom surrounding fireworks. Missouri has a very wide selling period for fireworks: June 20 to July 10 and December 20 to January 2. (for the Fourth of July and the winter holidays, of course). You must be fourteen years old or accompanied by a parent or guardian to buy fireworks. Virtually all fireworks are allowed in Missouri, with a few exceptions.

Pennsylvania has a very strange set of fireworks laws, but is arguably the most lenient out of all the states in the New England area. Citizens can buy sparklers and novelty fireworks without issue. Moreover, aerial fireworks can be bought, provided you have a municipal permit. All display fireworks that are shot into the air and burst are not allowed to be used by consumers, however. You must be at least eighteen to obtain a municipal permit. Also, out-of-state residents with proper ID can purchase fireworks in Pennsylvania. Just make sure that if you buy them in Pennsylvania, you launch them where they’re legal.

Texas: Texas is just one of the states in the southern United States that has a relaxed fireworks policy. The selling period for fireworks is between June 24 and July 4 and December 20 and January 1 and purchasers must be sixteen years old to buy fireworks. And the only thing that’s prohibited? Small rockets.

Sounds sensible.

Washington: If you’re in the Northwest, the place for fireworks is Washington. Fireworks are sold from June 28 to July 5 and December 27 to January 1. You must be at least sixteen to buy fireworks in Washington. Almost all fireworks are legally allowed, except for bottle rockets, sky rockets, firecrackers, and sky flyers, which need local approval.

Fireworks are a great way to enjoy your 4th of July in brilliant fashion, but (and it should go without saying) they can be also dangerous. Find out if they’re legal in where you live (and sometimes, laws vary even by county) and if they are, use the utmost precaution.

And of course, if worse comes to worse, there should be a municipal show somewhere close by. It’s Independence Day, so somehow, some way, you’ll have to see some fireworks, right?

Have a safe, festive fourth, have a few hot dogs, and enjoy the show!

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