Arkansas Incident Highlights Safety, Legal Issues with Fireworks

July 9, 2019

cop car lights


Jennifer Wessel, JD, MPH
Senior Policy Analyst and Data Privacy Officer

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Several people were injured on July 4 during what has been deemed a “fireworks war” in College Station, an area outside of the Little Rock city limits in Pulaski County. News reports indicated that 12 people were arrested and five were injured. As this incident illustrates, improper use of fireworks can be not only dangerous but also illegal.

Arkansas law allows fireworks to be sold to consumers age 12 or older from June 20 through July 10 and from December 10 through January 5. It is unlawful to sell fireworks to any person known to be intoxicated or irresponsible. The following types of fireworks, defined in U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulations as “Class C” or consumer fireworks, may be purchased by consumers without a permit: roman candles, skyrockets, helicopter rockets, cylindrical and cone fountains, wheels, torches, colored fire, dipped sticks, mines and shells, firecrackers, and novelties. Size and weight limits apply to some fireworks.

Many states have restrictions on certain types of consumer fireworks. This table compares laws in surrounding states.

fireworks table

Municipal ordinances may further restrict the sale of fireworks or ban the sale or discharge of fireworks completely inside city limits. For example, the City of Little Rock bans the sale, possession, and use of fireworks.

Criminal penalties may be imposed for firework use that causes physical injury or creates a substantial risk of physical injury. People also may be subject to civil penalties for physical injury or property damage, even in the absence of criminal prosecution. Learn more about fireworks-related deaths and injuries in this report released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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