NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A4362C
SPONSOR: Morelle (MS)
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the penal law, in relation to offenses
relating to possession or sale of fireworks, sparkling devices and ammu-
PURPOSE: This bill is intended to modernize the statute dealing with
illegal fireworks, provide additional definitions of what constitutes
fireworks and dangerous fireworks and take certain novelty devices,
which are not recognized as fireworks by the federal government out of
the definition of fireworks.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section one of this bill amends subdivisions 1,
2 and 3 of section 270.00 of the penal law to remove from its definition
of "Fireworks" and "Dangerous Fireworks" sparkling devices, novelties,
toy caps, and similar devices as defined by APA Standard 87-1, 2001
Additionally this section provides definitions for "display fireworks",
"articles pyrotechnic" and "special effects", all of which are included
under the definition of "Fireworks." It also removes flares, sparkling
devices and other novelties from the terms "fireworks" and "dangerous
fireworks." The definitions of "fireworks" and "dangerous fireworks"
remain unchanged and include sparkling devices in cities with a popu-
lation of one million or more.
Subdivision 2 creates the crime of unlawful sale of dangerous fireworks
to a minor is amended to include the sale of fireworks, sparkling
devices and novelties.
EXISTING LAW:; Section 270:00 of the penal law was derived from
section 1844a of the Penal Law of 1909 which was enacted into law in
1940. In 1997 certain fireworks were reclassified as "dangerous fire-
works". These fireworks are capable of causing serious physical injury
and include torpedoes, skyrockets, Roman candles and bombs. Current law
penalizes as a violation the possession or use of fireworks or dangerous
fireworks, and penalizes as a class B misdemeanor the sale of fireworks
or dangerous fireworks. Any person who sells fireworks or dangerous
fireworks valued at $500 or more, or who sells dangerous fireworks to a
minor, is guilty of a class R misdemeanor, Finally, any person who,
within the past five years has previously been convicted of the sale of
dangerous fireworks, is guilty of a class E felony.
JUSTIFICATION: The current law has not been used effectively in part
because of poor definitions. Courts have thrown out indictments because
of poor definitions of the term fireworks. This bill strengthens those
definitions. In addition very few arrests and convictions have been
obtained under the current statute. Since 1956, 63 convictions have been
obtained Statewide. In 1999 and 2000 only five convictions were
By modernizing the statute and clearly defining fireworks, dangerous
fireworks and novelty devices, the bill will provide law enforcement
with an important tool in reducing the use of illegal fireworks and
homemade devices and encouraging the use of safe and legally regulated
novelty devices. The amendments provide for technical changes to the
definitions of "explosive composition" and "pyrotechnic composition,"
They also update the current definition of sparkler's as either wood
stick or wire, and define handheld or ground based sparkling devices
(also known as cone or cylindrical fountain sparklers) as a separate
category of fireworks.
The Consumer Products Safety Commission, hereinafter, CPSC, has outlawed
sparkler's containing magnesium, so that definition is deleted and a
definition of these devices based upon the weight of the pyrotechnic
composition as used by both the CPSC and the United States Department of
Transportation is substituted. Explosive or aerial sparkling devices are
added to the list of dangerous fireworks and the provision making spark-
lers more than ten inches in length or one-fourth of an inch in diameter
is deleted, as these sparklers would now be judged by weight of pyro-
technic composition, not length or size.
Sparklers would still be defined as fireworks and still be banned with
out an appropriate permit, assuming the weight requirement was met. To
meet the concerns of the City of New York, the definition of novelty
devices is subdivided into four separate categories and all novelty
devices would still be deemed fireworks and prohibited by this legis-
lation in cities with a population in excess of one million.
In other areas of the state, possession and sale of these items would be
permitted. A second category would include handheld and ground based
sparkling devices which are non-explosive and non-aerial and which
contain small amounts of pyrotechnic composition. This amended bill
would permit these items to be possessed and sold in New York State.
However, as to cities with a population of one million or more, these
items would continue to be deemed "fireworks" and prohibited in such
city by the provisions of this amendment.
A third category would include toy pistols and toy caps which currently
are not considered fireworks under the Penal Law. The last category of
novelty devices includes trick noisemaker's, including party poppers,
snappers and drop pops containing very small amounts of explosive compo-
sition. It is believed these items, very similar to toy cap guns, are
not covered by the current statute and their legal status statewide
needs to be clarified.
The amendment prohibits the sale of sparkling devices to minor's under
the age of eighteen. Pursuant to the amendments, repeat sales to a minor
of these items subjects the offender to felony prosecution.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: A9006B of 2009-2010 - amend (t) and recommit to
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: To be determined. There will be considerable
revenue from state sales tax.
LOCAL FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: Possible additional sales tax revenues.
There will become law enforcement efficiency due to more clear defi-
nition of terms.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.