Plan would roll back legalizing some fireworks in NJ
The booms from backyard and side-street fireworks displays still echoing in their ears, a few state lawmakers have introduced a bill that would roll back the 2017 legalization of small fireworks in New Jersey.
Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, D-Passaic, said that although the state legalized only certain non-exploding, non-aerial devices and novelties, some small shops and bodegas have gone much further and are reselling more powerful devices.
“When we lifted the ban on the sale of certain fireworks, sparklers and stuff like that, it opened the door for illegal fireworks to be sold through businesses that shouldn’t be selling them,” Wimberly said.
“I just think we need to get back to where we were on this, overall make it illegal for fireworks and not even open that, crack a window for people to sell illegal fireworks in New Jersey,” he said.
Wimberly said the problems were evident around Independence Day, when people would shoot off personal fireworks deep into the night.
“Those days leading up to Fourth of July – I mean, it sounded like a war was going on. And then you had incidents of fires where some of these things are pretty powerful, and I think a guy somewhere in North Jersey hit a roof and ignited a fire,” Wimberly said.
A resident in Jersey City died due to illegal fireworks. Wimberly said the victim bled out from a rocket hitting them in the neck. He said other people lost limbs.
Wimberly said that in addition to rolling back the partial legalization through bill A4448, he wants to work with Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s office to address the illegal sale of larger fireworks bought in bulk across the border, particularly in Pennsylvania, and resold.
“People took advantage of that, unfortunately,” he said. “The good players – the 7-Elevens and the Walmarts and stuff – they stayed within the criteria of what was legal. But I think you had some of the local corner stores and stuff like that, really abused it and went out and sold high-powered fireworks to residents who unknowingly or knowingly purchased them.”
The fireworks have quieted for the most part, but Wimberly expects them to return as summer winds down.
“On weekends I’ve heard some stuff, and then, you know, that Labor Day weekend is usually a fireworks weekend,” he said. “So I think we have to unfortunately wait and see.”
Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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