The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) wants consumers to celebrate safely this Fourth of July and be mindful that illegal explosives devices are not fireworks. Illegal manufacture or distribution of powerful fireworks not made for consumer use can result in tragedies.
ATF wants to make consumers aware that illegal explosives devices are not fireworks. Users risk property damage, loss of limbs or eyes, and even loss of life by manufacturing or using them. Illegal explosives devices − commonly referred to as M-80s, quarter sticks, or cherry bombs − often come in plain brown or white wrappers, with no identifying marks. Because they meet neither safety nor quality standards, they are extremely dangerous. They can be highly unstable because heat, shock or pressure can trigger accidental detonation. Consumer fireworks, unless restricted by state or local laws, are fireworks which can be sold to the general public.
Consumer firework are defined in 27 CFR 555.11 as any small firework device designed to produce visible effects by combustion and which must comply with the construction, chemical composition, and labeling regulations of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Some small devices designed to produce audible effects are included, such as whistling devices, ground devices containing 50 mg or less of explosive materials, and aerial devices containing 130 mg or less of explosive materials. Consumer fireworks are marked with brightly colored and decorated paper and include a trade name and manufacturing information.
Display fireworks defined in 27 CFR 555.11 are large fireworks designed primarily to produce visible or audible effects by combustion, deflagration, or detonation. This term includes, but is not limited to, salutes containing more than 2 grains (130 mg) of explosive materials, aerial shells containing more than 40 grams of pyrotechnic compositions, and other display pieces which exceed the limits of explosive materials for classification as consumer fireworks. Anyone importing, manufacturing, dealing in, or otherwise receiving display fireworks must have an ATF explosives license or permit.