Boom: Poll Says Most Iowans Support Legal Fireworks

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While the social media comments under Iowa news stories involving fireworks would lead you to think most people hate them, a recent poll conducted on behalf of Iowa Starting Line shows a majority of Iowans—of all political persuasions—enjoy fireworks being legal for personal use.

According to the poll, 60% of respondents think selling fireworks to the general public should stay legal. Republicans felt the strongest about it with 65% in favor, followed by 64% of independents, and 51% of Democrats.

Only 28% of respondents thought retail fireworks should return to being illegal, an opinion shared by 38% of Democrats surveyed. Just 23% of Republicans agreed with outlawing personal-use fireworks again, a view also shared by 25% of Independents.

 About 11% of people across the board didn’t know if anything else needed to be done.

Data For Progress conducted polling for Iowa Starting Line and surveyed 637 likely voters from July 22 to 29. The margin of error is ±4 percentage points.

Retail fireworks were re-legalized in Iowa in 2017 after being prohibited for decades following massive fires in the 1930s in the northwest Iowa cities of Spencer and Remsen. Both blazes were blamed on fireworks.

The Iowa Legislature banned residential sales of them in 1938, making Iowa the first in the nation to take such a stance. The 2017 law that overturned the ban provided a framework for city and county governments to develop their own fireworks ordinances and gave communities discretion on whether or not to bring back combustibles.

In Sioux City, for example, residents may set off fireworks from 1-10 p.m. on July 3-4, and 1 p.m-midnight on Dec. 31 and until 12:30 a.m. on Jan. The city received about 600 fireworks complaints in 2021, according to KTIV, although a Sioux City Journal story noted it was about half as many this year.

As a business, fireworks seem to be booming in Iowa. There are 584 licensed fireworks retailers—this includes temporary stands and permanent buildingsin Iowa, according to the State Fire Marshal Division.

And although the American Pyrothenic Association does not track sales for individual states, the only three periods, so far, in which retail firework revenues have crossed the billion threshold—2019, 2020, and 2021—have occurred since Iowans were again legally allowed to see their money go up in smoke.


by Ty Rushing

To contact Senior Editor Ty Rushing for tips or story ideas, email him at or find him on Twitter @Rushthewriter 

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1 Comment on "Boom: Poll Says Most Iowans Support Legal Fireworks"

  • I’ve seen many reader complaints under newspaper fireworks stories, per the above. Many if not most of the complaints I saw were about the illegal USE of fireworks.

    It’s one thing to buy fireworks for personal use and then take the family to Cousin Richard’s farm and set them off there, where there are no neighbors to be be bothered. It’s another thing to buy fireworks for personal use and then set them off any dang place, a driveway in a crowded neighborhood, a local playground, a park, whatever, with no regard for time of night, local fireworks rules, or anything else.

    And the other complaint I saw over and over was that local fireworks ordinances were not being enforced and were useless. That complaint seemed to be borne out in the Des Moines metro, at least, because in spite of dozens if not hundreds of calls to the police about illegal fireworks going off in the metro, reader comments complained that NO CITATIONS were issued. Over and over, by the time the police arrived at an illegal fireworks report location, it was impossible to prove who set off the fireworks. What a surprise.

    My own main problem with fireworks is the environmental impacts. Those range from air and water pollution to scaring birds off their nests, with baby birds dying as a result, and scaring other animals onto roads or sending them crashing into buildings, with resulting casualties. There are reasons why fireworks are not allowed in national parks and wildlife refuges.

    But I also feel sorry for the people who have to deal with terrified dogs, their own PTSD, etc. Which brings me to another comment reader complaint. The fireworks frenzy isn’t just for a night or two. Readers complained that they were hearing illegal fireworks in cities starting during the last week of June and continuing for several days.

    If fireworks are going to be part of early July in Iowa every year, some way needs to be found to at least enforce local ordinances so the ordinances are not regarded as pathetic jokes.

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