Ohioans would be allowed to discharge consumer grade fireworks — firecrackers, Roman candles, bottle rockets and more — anytime, any day on their own property, according to legislation approved Thursday by the Ohio House.
The House voted 77-17 in favor of the measure, which now moves to the Senate for consideration. A similar bill is also pending in the Senate.
Lawmakers have long sought to clean up Ohio’s convoluted consumer fireworks law. Currently, Ohioans may purchase consumer grade fireworks but they aren’t allowed to possess or use them in Ohio. There is a long-standing moratorium on the number of fireworks licensed manufacturers and dealers.
The bill would eliminate the prohibition on possession and ignition of consumer grade fireworks and earmark a portion of taxes collected on sales for firefighter training programs.
Despite illogical existing law, safety advocates say lifting restrictions is the wrong way to go. The Ohio Fireworks Safety Coalition says there is no safe way to use fireworks and often it’s innocent bystanders, including children, who suffer injuries from amateur pyrotechnics.
The group also noted that there have been news reports of protesters setting off fireworks in crowds of demonstrators and toward police officers.
House Bill 253 and Senate Bill 72, both pending in the Ohio Legislature, would lift the ban on consumers discharging such consumer fireworks. The bills would legalize “backyard” fireworks on private property year-round unless local governments pass restrictions.
Based on what Ohioans hear in their neighborhoods during the 4th of July, plenty of people are violating the current law. That could be a first degree misdemeanor with a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail, but it rarely is enforced.
Before 1983, Ohio banned purchase, possession and discharge of fireworks. The law changed to allow the purchase if buyers promised to take the fireworks out of state. Customers no longer have to sign a form promising to do so.
Currently, the only legal fireworks in Ohio are those that smoke, snake, snap or sparkle.
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