This article originally appeared on LeHigh Valley Live by Jim Flagg on July 5th, 2016.
Sunday and Monday were noisy times in many neighborhoods — further evidence that fireworks laws in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are evaded easily by people who want to set off their own private shows. In some neighborhoods, loud booming firecrackers and skyrockets went on well after midnight.
Not all fireworks are illegal, of course. Pennsylvania allows low-level fireworks — sparklers, “novelties,” caps and the like. New Jersey prohibits the possession and use of all fireworks, except those handled by professionals at authorized displays.
Pennsylvania’s strange law isn’t fooling anyone. Under the law, out-of-state residents may purchase a wide array of fireworks at Pennsylvania stores, many of which are located at state borders — such as the outlets along Interstate 78 in Easton and Williams Township. However, Pennsylvania residents may only buy the less-powerful fireworks there. New Jersey residents may buy the boomers, but they’re breaking the law in their home state as soon as they cross the border with a trunkful of contraband.
Nudge, wink. The prohibitions aren’t stopping people who want a big bang and aerial pyrotechnics to celebrate Independence Day weekend. And other events during the year.
Some people say New Jersey and Pennsylvania should end the sham by legalizing fireworks. Others say New Jersey is right in banning personal fireworks — and should enforce the law. Others scoff at the Pennsylvania law that holds different standards for residents and non-residents. (If the latter want to blow off their fingers, so be it; Pennsylvanians can’t be, or shouldn’t be, trusted.)