Today, you can walk into a fireworks store and buy strings of Black Cats, a box of cherry bombs, Roman candles, bottle rockets and Catherine wheels.

The fact we even have brick-and-mortar stores that sell an ostensibly illegal item tells you something.

Nobody enforces the law.

That’s because many people in Florida love to celebrate whatever with backyard fireworks. You, or your neighbors, perhaps. People without dogs that freak out when they hear the first loud crack outside, of course, but apparently that’s a lot of people.

Florida’s fireworks laws are a sham, and everybody knows it. We remember a time years ago when sheriff’s deputies made an occasional show of hassling fireworks dispensers in the area, but that was a long, long time ago.

Enforcement is up to local police agencies, and they just don’t bother. Fireworks merchants can skirt the letter of the law with a loophole that permits sales for agricultural use. Retail buyers simply have to sign a waiver saying they’re using the fireworks to scare birds out of the cornfield.

So, everybody’s got overalls and a pickup truck. Everybody’s a farmer putting fireworks to legitimate use.

Companion bills filed last week in the Florida House and Senate are aimed at ending this explicit bogosity.

According to, Sen. Travis Hudson and Rep. Ana Maria Rodriguez filed bills that would remove the ban for fireworks use for Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and New Year’s day. The bills don’t actually define specific rules but state that rules will be developed. And, again, there easily could be loopholes aplenty. Might you buy fireworks in February by saying you’re storing them for July 4? (And, side question, how many people actually set off backyard fireworks on Memorial Day?)

Regardless of the flaws, it seems reasonable to take a stab at transparency and honesty in the law. No other state has Florida’s wink-and-nod fireworks law. No wonder. Why not just legalize something that is, in practice, already considered legal activity?

An editorial from the Charlotte Sun.


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