Woo Hoo, a Sparkler!


The Portland Press Herald reports that the Maine Fire Marshal's Office prepared for Independence Day by staking out fireworks stores in neighboring New Hampshire:

Mainers suspected of buying fireworks may be stopped and arrested as they cross the border. Penalties range from a $50 fine for having less than $100 worth of fireworks to 10 years in prison for having more than $5,000 worth of fireworks.

While Mainers who want to explosively express their excitement on the Fourth are limited to sparklers and caps, New Hampshirites can legally purchase and use some pretty cool stuff (PDF), including not just multistage fountains but flying and exploding products such as the Aerial Super Seven Shell, the Wolfpack Missile Base, and the nine-shot 4th of July Spectacular. No wonder Mainers are tempted to smuggle.

Although New Hampshire does not allow "firecrackers, bottle rockets and reloadable type shells," its "permissible fireworks list" runs to 57 pages of tiny print. And unlike Pennsylvania, New Hampshire lets people not only buy mortars but use them. When I lived in Northern Virginia, I knew people who would go up to Gettysburg every year to get fireworks that were legal to sell in Pennsylvania, but only for use in other states. They were illegal to use in Virginia too, but police tended to look the other way on Independence Day and New Year's Eve.

I've been disappointed by the fireworks regime in Texas, which I imagined would be wide open. Although the state law is fairly permissive, there are many local restrictions. And Dallas, where I live, bans all unlicensed use of fireworks. If you happen to live in New Hampshire or some other firework-friendly place, please set off some mortars and rockets for me.

Greg Beato and Robert Stacy McCain defend real fireworks.

[Thanks to Michael Graham for the tip.]