Ballot Proposal Filed to Make Fireworks Legal in Massachusetts

A former state rep. says it's time to give up on the ban once and for all.

For some, taking a trip up to New Hampshire for some illegal fireworks is as synonymous with the Fourth of July as barbecues and apple pie. That may not be the case for much longer, however, as a former Republican state representative for Gardner wants to end Massachusetts’ prohibition on fireworks once and for all.

Rich Bastien, now a teacher, has penned one of the dozens of ballot proposals pending review by state Attorney General Maura Healey, reports State House News Service. It calls for the legalization of bottle rockets and firecrackers, which are illegal in New Hampshire, as well as the legalization of aerial displays, which are illegal in Connecticut. Sparklers would be made available in retail stores, while the heavy duty goods would only be available at specialty stores.

“It’s just one of those issues where I don’t think anybody would say now that our ban works. Whether you like fireworks or you don’t like fireworks, now that we’re completely surrounded by states that sell them, the ban doesn’t work,” Bastien told SHNS, dismissing increased enforcement as a solution.

Use of fireworks would be allowed until 10 p.m., only on property where the owner has given permission. This curfew would extend to 12:30 a.m. on the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve. Setting off fireworks after the curfew or at an unauthorized location would carry a $1,000 fine.

Oddly enough, Bastien doesn’t even use fireworks all that often. “Have I a couple times? Absolutely. But it’s not something every Fourth of July that I’m out having a party or anything like that,” he said.

If Bastien’s proposal is deemed ballot eligible by Healey’s office, he will need to garner 64,750 signatures by late November to send the referendum to the Legislature as a bill. If it isn’t enacted by the first Wednesday in May, Bastien would need an additional 10,792 signatures by early July to further pursue the ballot measure.