Nothing’s More American Than Smuggling Fireworks Across State Lines

Photo: Michael Rivera / Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Michael Rivera / Wikimedia Commons

It’s the Fourth of July, the peak of American fireworks season. Your city or town might have an officially sanctioned display, but it might not be legal to purchase certain fireworks in your state. If you live in Massachusetts, private citizens are prohibited from even possessing fireworks. It might sound fun to be a smuggler for a day, but just hear me out before you grab your keys and head out the door.

Yes, plenty of people move fireworks across state lines from sea to shining sea. A supervisor at New Hamshire fireworks store told NHPR:

“People come up from Massachusetts, they come up from Connecticut, and they come up from New York. They’ll come up, they’ll buy stuff, and then once it hits nighttime, even though it’s illegal, cops can’t see the fireworks in your car, so then they get back down.”


Now, I promise you that I’m not a cop, but there are dangers and consequences to moving explosives in your car. You can simply get caught by police, like a 22-year-old man in Massachusetts last year. According to WBTS, the 2019 Infiniti SUV was pulled over by the Massachusetts State Police for canceled insurance and the trooper saw over 64 packages of fireworks in the vehicle. The potential legal penalty for fireworks possession in the Bay State is fairly lenient, a fine of up to $100 and confiscation of the contraband.

The most immediate danger is crashing the car. Earlier this year in North Carolina, a multi-car pileup on I-95 was complicated by a vehicle filled to the brim with fireworks. Eight cars were involved in the blaze and six people were injured, the Daily Record reported. The local fire department ran out of water attempting to put out the inferno and switched to carbon dioxide extinguishers in a last-gasp effort as they waited for aid from another department.

The trend these days is towards relaxation of bans. Nineteen states have loosened fireworks laws since 2009, NPR reports, and with less regulation comes less smuggling. So please enjoy Independence Day responsibly and handle your legally procured explosives with care. Don’t go breaking any laws anddon’t attack a city bus with fireworks like people did during a street takeover in Los Angeles earlier this week.

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