NORTH LIMA, Ohio (WKBN) – Sales at Phantom Fireworks are picking up as the Fourth of July approaches but the Youngstown-based company wants its customers to be able to shoot off their patriotic displays where they live.
Phantom Fireworks Company wants the laws in Ohio and Pennsylvania changed, allowing people to use fireworks without permits or contradictory laws.
The fact is, people who buy fireworks are going to set them off somewhere and likely won’t get arrested. That leaves many wondering why the law isn’t just changed to allow it.
Bill Penfold, of Salem, spent Wednesday afternoon at the North Lima store.
“The ability to buy fireworks here in Ohio and then not be able to set them off, it doesn’t make sense,” he said.
Ed Voit, who lives in Pittsburgh, was also shopping at Phantom Fireworks. He said his state’s laws need to be changed, too.
“I think it’s about responsibility. I mean, you come in here, you show them your driver’s license. You’re not selling it to kids.”
The goal of Phantom Fireworks is to have the buying and shooting of all consumer fireworks legal in every state.
Phantom Fireworks’ Director of Government Affairs Dan Peart said in Ohio, aerial fireworks can be sold but not shot without a permit.
“The legislative wheels turn very slowly.”
He was hoping the state legislature would have created a group to study the shooting of fireworks without permits.
“We had a good run. Didn’t get as far as we wanted to right now but we’ll take it back up in the fall,” Peart said.
Pennsylvania allows for ground-based fireworks only — nothing aerial or exploding. However, the state does allow aerial and exploding fireworks to be sold but only to non-Pennsylvania residents.
“We’ve got seven stores in Pennsylvania that have been selling, some of them for over 20 years,” Peart said.
He said the fact that those customers are not allowed to use them in their own state is another law that needs to be changed.
The argument against changing is safety — fireworks can be dangerous. But Peart said while fireworks consumption has more than doubled in 15 years, fireworks accidents have dropped by 60 percent.
He said the fireworks are safer now and Phantom is educating people.
The next step in changing Ohio’s law won’t come until the fall. A committee hearing in Pennsylvania will be held in the next couple of weeks.