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Idaho attorney general: Retailers can't sell illegal fireworks to general public

The opinion was submitted in a letter to Rep. Mat Erpelding (D-Boise) from Paul Panther, deputy attorney general. (File Photo)

The Idaho Attorney Generals Office says the sale of aerial fireworks are illegal to sell to the general public in Idaho and should be removed from local retail shelves.

The opinion was submitted in a letter to Rep. Mat Erpelding (D-Boise) from Paul Panther, deputy attorney general.

“Special fireworks, that is, fireworks that are not non-aerial common fireworks or ‘safe and sane’ fireworks, can only be sold to a person possessing a permit issued pursuant to Idaho Code 39-2605 for a public display or event. Such fireworks can only be sold within a reasonable time period before the display or event.”

Earlier this year, legislation was drafted that would have banned the sale of illegal fireworks in Idaho, but it was denied a full hearing. Then, representative Erpelding asked the Attorney General's office for clarification about Idaho's fireworks loophole.

"Representative Erpelding asked for clarification on the current state law for fireworks," Boise Fire Chief Dennis Doan said. "The Attorney General's office agreed that the current state code does not allow the sale of aerial fireworks."

As it stands, Idahoans can purchase the illegal fireworks if they sign an affidavit promising they won't light them in the Gem State. Earlier this year, legislation was drafted that would have banned the sale of illegal fireworks in Idaho was denied a full hearing.

“This clarification from the Attorney General’s office makes it clear that the sale of aerial fireworks to the general public is not allowed in Idaho. I, along with The Idaho Fire Chiefs Association, know that keeping aerial fireworks from being sold in Idaho to the general public will further protect citizens, their property, and our firefighters who risk their lives battling fires caused by aerial fireworks,” said Fire Chief Dennis Doan.

One local firework retailer that sells aerial fireworks told KBOI 2News that the news on Tuesday has already affected sales. Another retailer said they're waiting for more clarification from officials.

If the loophole was closed, it would make it possible to purchase aerial fireworks only if you have a permit. This would pose a challenge to stands who sell those aerial fireworks and make them sign an affadavit.

The AG's statement is only a legal opinion, and in Idaho the AG does not have law enforcement power. In the end, it's up to local law enforcement to decide how the law should be interpreted.

"It's going to be different all over the state of Idaho," Doan said. "It depends where the vendor is. If they're selling in the City of Boise, the Boise Fire Department and the Boise Police Department will be the authority having jurisdiction over those retailers. If it's in a county, it could be a county fire department or a county sheriff."

Canyon County says they are still reviewing the information.

“The Canyon County Sheriff’s Office is in the process of reviewing the AG’s letter with our own legal counsel and our intention in the interim is to simply continue to enforce the law as written, with all due regard and the majority of resources devoted to matters of public safety," said Joe Decker, Canyon County PIO. "Using fireworks as weapons, in an otherwise dangerous manner, in areas that have been declared severe fire threat, etc. are a priority, as are incidents of driving under the influence, domestic violence, etc. that typically seem to surge during the holiday weekend. Enforcement authority related to retail sale of “consumer fireworks” rests with several entities, and we certainly won’t interfere with their efforts to issue those infraction citations while we preserve the public safety.


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