Firework sales exploding, despite state law that bans their use without a permit
State attorney calls firework law "mixed message"
11:01 PM, Jul 2, 2013
12:32 PM, Jul 3, 2013
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - July 4th is coming and thousands are shopping for fireworks at local stores, even though state law says you're not allowed to shoot them off.
Derrick Brooks is loading up for the Fourth.
"That's our Independence Day," he said. "That's the day we celebrate. We should be able to celebrate it to the fullest."
He spent hundreds of dollars today at Sky King in Delray Beach in hopes of showing neighborhood kids a great time on the July 4th.
He didn't know they were illegal to shoot off in Florida until we told him.
"I mean, I don't know, that is pretty strange," said Brooks.
Here's how stores are able to sell them:
First, they make all customers sign a waiver.
Unless you have a permit from a local city to use fireworks, the exemptions outlined in state law are to use them for the military, a railroad signal, for blasting in a quarry or for a show, theater or sport.
Sky King highlights that as a best option.
They ask customers to write July 4th as a description of the event the fireworks will be used for.
"It follows according to state law," said Joe Martin of Sky King Fireworks in Delray Beach.
Firefighters and law enforcement we spoke to say that the waivers do not cover backyard lighting of anything that explodes or launches.
"Just like with other laws the legislature passes, there is some ambiguity and mixed messages," said Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg.
Sky King says once people sign the waiver and leave the store, they can't control what happens next.
Last year, 8,700 people nationwide were hurt by fireworks.
Fireworks caused 156 fires statewide.
"Growing up, I've been shooting off fireworks for a pretty long time," said Brooks. "My brother he taught me. You've just got to be careful."
Aronberg says enforcement is all about officer discretion.
If a police officer sees you lighting fireworks off, you could get a $1,000 fine and a year in jail.