Texas Fourth of July

Does the mere thought of July 4 bring tears of joy?   If you have a box full of Beasts of Artillery, Jumbo Ground Bloom Flowers and Morning Glories, then you know what I’m talking about:  your very own fireworks celebration.

It’s probably a good time to review the law.

Fireworks are considered a public nuisance.  Towns and cities have the power to regulate nuisances within their boundaries.  Those municipalities that are classified as “home-rule” can actually regulate up to 5000 feet outside the city limits.

A municipality can ban possession of the firework within its limits, but not the transportation of fireworks.  You can buy the fireworks and drive them through any municipality, even one with the most stringent of ordinances.  Caveat:  sometimes cities get confused about this particular constitutional right and issue tickets.

If your municipality has a fireworks ban, what exactly does that include? Interesting that you should ask.

There are consumer fireworks, and there are explosives.  The National Fire Protection Association sets out guidelines for explosives that are low-grade, such as those that are used in public displays.  The ATF and Consumer Safety Products Commission set out the types of fireworks that are considered consumer fireworks.

The NFPA guidelines are just that – definitions that can be adopted by a state or municipality.  The ATF and CSPC set out national minimums for fireworks that are binding on states.  Each state can adopt more stringent laws.

Thus, in California you can legally shoot off fountains.  In Illinois, you are lucky to get snakes.

Texas sets its definitions and laws based upon the Federal laws.  “Fireworks”  means a composition or device designed for entertainment to produce a visible or audible effect by combustion, explosion, deflagration or detonation.  It’s ok to sell a 1.4 G (this references a federal code provision) device for personal entertainment.  Roadside fireworks stands are full of 1.4 G devices.  It’s not ok to sell 1.3 G devices to the general public.

Within Texas, you can legally buy and transport sky rockets, roman candles, firecrackers, sparklers, smoke and punk, fountains, missiles, novelties, crackle and strobe, parachutes, wheels and spinners, sky flyers, display shells and aerial items (cakes).

You’ll have to check local ordinances to find out if you are prohibited from storing or shooting them off.  Or you could just light the fuse and see if you attract your own glowing red lights.

Happy 4th.