Everyone agrees Oahu’s fireworks ban isn’t working, but there’s little agreement on a fix

After a loud and dangerous start to the new year, lawmakers and residents are calling for changes to fireworks laws.
Published: Jan. 2, 2023 at 11:02 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After a loud and dangerous start to the new year, lawmakers and residents are calling for changes to fireworks laws.

As illegal aerials were going off on New Year’s Eve, West Oahu state Rep. Kanani Souza took to social media and used sarcasm to get her point across. “I just wanted to do an update on the fireworks, where we are there’s no illegal fireworks,” said Souza, in a video posted on social media.

“Everyone is respecting the fireworks laws this evening,” she added, tongue in cheek.

Souza said she wanted to show that Hawaii’s fireworks laws really aren’t working.

Councilmember and part-time comedian Augie Tulba got the joke and commented on the post saying his side was also “amazingly quiet.”

“It was to bring awareness to the fact that we have fireworks laws in place, very strong fireworks laws,” said Souza. “But there’s no enforcement and people do not seem to be deterred by the current laws in place.”

HPD hasn’t released the numbers on this year’s enforcement. But last New Year, police made just one arrest and issued 45 citations.

It’s been 12 years since Honolulu banned most fireworks, including sparklers.

Souza said it’s time for a new approach.

“I think that fireworks, the ban should be lifted,” said Souza. “Until enforcement can happen and we can get all of that infrastructure in place, then the laws are simply ineffective.”

Clifton Sato, of Makakilo, agreed.

“I think they should go back to the table and renegotiate it and not only get politicians opinions, get the people in the community. It’s not gonna stop, this is our tradition,” he said.

“I was born and raised doing this stuff.”

But state Sen. Kurt Favella said things have simply gotten out of hand.

“Our tradition was never making bombs. The bombs you see in the sky in a residential area was never a tradition,” he said. “Legal fireworks, 10,000, 5,000, that was our tradition.”

Favella said the city should do away with fireworks permits and only ban aerials, which are typically responsible for most injuries.

“Aerials is too dangerous in this condensed area, it’s not like before, when we were raised here in Ewa Beach, there was no houses, was only cane fields and a few houses,” said Favella.

“We’re too condensed, too many homes around. So those kinds of activities will cause damage and injury and people can get hurt.”

Favella and Souza plan to discuss fireworks laws during the legislative session.

Opening Day is January 18.