Yes, Illinois still bans fireworks
The Land of Lincoln is one of only seven states to impose harsh restrictions on the sale and possession of fireworks.
Fireworks are a staple of America’s celebration of its Independence Day. But good luck buying any in Illinois. For yet another year, the Land of Lincoln is one of only seven states in the country that doesn’t allow the purchase of consumer fireworks.
Illinois’ Pyrotechnic Use Act bans the sale, possession and use of those “consumer fireworks,” including bottle rockets, roman candles and firecrackers.
The lack of enforcement of the law, which carries a punishment of up to one year in prison and a $2,500 fine, is laughable. Communities from Elgin to Effingham will be filled with the same rockets and red glare as towns across the country.
What isn’t so amusing are the parking lots of fireworks stores in Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana that are filled with Illinois license plates. The money Illinoisans spend there could be used to create jobs and raise tax revenues in the Land of Lincoln, where the General Assembly has failed to pass a balanced budget on time for the 15th straight year.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Indiana has gained about $2.5 million in tax revenue every year since it loosened fireworks laws and leveed a 5 percent fee on sales in 2006. And it’s not alone. Arizona, Rhode Island, Kentucky and Maine have all lifted restrictions on the sale of fireworks since 2008. Nationwide, consumer fireworks sales totaled $662 million in 2013.
Illinois state Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, introduced legislation in April that would have legalized the fireworks currently banned under state law – and levied an additional 3.75 percent sales tax upon them.
Lawmakers can and should end Illinois’ paternalistic fireworks ban. The law cuts off fair access to the fruits of a huge industry. More importantly, it limits the personal freedoms long celebrated by bringing light to dark prairie skies.