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What Happens if I Get Caught


foxsavage

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I know this question can't be answered with certainty but I'd like to hear what has happened to other people who have been caught making fireworks. I live in the SF Bay area, safe and sane fireworks are legal in my town but not in most nearby. Most other types are tolerated on July 4th. I read that making any type of firework including model rocket motors is illegal everywhere in CA. I also read that if you get caught with up to 25 lbs. of illegal fireworks it's just a fine with no possibility of jail time. I wondered if it might be worth my time to make my stuff look like consumer fireworks by printing some labels and gluing them on just in case. I can't get around having to transport them to shoot them my neighborhood is just too crowded.
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The very first problem if you get caught will be to prove they are fireworks and not "destructive devices". There are many such cases described on the Net, and these feds are interested to charge the crap out of you with all kinds of things, so they are left with at least enough to put you in jail.

The usual scenario of being caught is a call from a fed-up neighbor. That takes place especially when you use fireworks in different days from the 4'th of July (when they won't draw much attention anyway). Or, it could be anyone seeing your chems, tubes, items, or anything that looks "suspect": a neighbor, the cable guy and so on. Anyone who doesn't know about your hobby.

 

Simply put, you'd be seen like a little mad, mischievously planning against the community, getting your weapons ready for a killing spree. People will feel insecure and scared because of you. So will the authorities. After the call, depending on the spot you live in you can be either visited by some rather curious "civilians" (possibly with a warrant, but most of the times not), or by some half the town forces (firefighters, ATF members, feds and the police). They will evacuate houses on a radius proportional to the perceived danger times paranoia factor on that particular day, will surround your property, snipers will be placed in strategic positions, helicopters will hover above and if you'll be watching TV at that particular time you'd say: "Look mom, our house is on the news!". All the forces involved will be prepared for the worst scenario: facing you, ferociously defending with guns that last 2" insert shell, ready to pry it open from your dead hand.

 

Neighbours you knew well and considered to be friends will be interviewed and you'll painfully hear "I always knew there's something strange about this guy", "I would have never thought he could do this, but I felt like he could" and so on.

 

The lawyer you need must be specialized in pyro, otherwise you'll lose in the court. There were many cases and they are all built around "destructive or incendiary devices building" charges rather than shells. Salutes are always "bomz". Oh, and there will be many others: improper chemical storage, illegal chems, fire endangerment and so on. You'll have a hard time to prove your point; nobody around you will ever understand your burning desire to paint the sky, let alone endangering people in the process.

Even if you escape conviction, the fines, penalties, lawyer fees and all the rest (hazmat will charge by pound, and they will likely be involved too) will cost you a fortune and alter your life forever.

 

All for a few farts on the sky.

Edited by a_bab
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That seems awfully harsh. I don't think it would be hard to prove I'm making fireworks and not bombs though, it's pretty obvious. I never light anything at my house but I do have low fences with small gaps so the neighbors could potentially see chemicals, tubes, fuses, ect. I do all my assembly outside on a picnic table, I'll have to get a tent to prevent anyone from potentially seeing something.
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You asked for the truth and he gave it to you...California is not the place to be a shell builder without a license. Your common sense approach will sometimes work in less "green" states, but is far from a guarantee that you will remain a free person with no felonies on your record.
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Yes it's much better that I at least know what the stakes are, I won't be making anything where prying eyes would have any chance of seeing me anymore. My next logical question is how would I go about getting a license in CA? I didn't think I could get one because what I read simply said all types of fireworks manufacture was illegal here. I have a perfect place to build a magazine.
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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm posting in this thread with my " stupid" question:

I'm a little paranoid, so does posting videos on youtube can be bad form me? Since In no video my face doesn't appear :)

I'm wondering if the police look on youtube and if they can get my IP.

Don't laugh, I want to be sure if it's safe to post videos on youtube :)

Thanks

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I'm posting in this thread with my " stupid" question:

I'm a little paranoid, so does posting videos on youtube can be bad form me? Since In no video my face doesn't appear :)

I'm wondering if the police look on youtube and if they can get my IP.

Don't laugh, I want to be sure if it's safe to post videos on youtube :)

Thanks

There is nothing like a stupid question and yes they can get your IP but they want do it unless you have videos with bombs
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Manufacturing just isn't really a good idea unless you live in an area where you can build, and shoot on site.

 

If you live in California join the WPA and stay legal by manufacturing and shooting at club events. Great group of pyros. We have two events a year, one in Hawthorne Nevada, where do-it is held and the other in Lake Havasu Arizona (winterblast).

 

http://www.westernpyro.org

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I've really been putting a lot of thought into getting legal. I've been seriously considering buying some land in the Nevada desert and trying to get licensed so I could build all year then bring everything to a WPA event and shoot it.
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You have no reason NOT to get legal. It's rather simple and there is plenty of info - and many would help you.

 

You are fortunate enough to live in about the only country in the world that has laws concerning amateur pyro activity. But the same country will put you in jail in no time if you get caught unlicensed.

 

I wouldn't hesitate if I were you.

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  • 1 month later...

A video on youtube can very easily be a consumer firework you lit and posted. since allyou did was post a video you did nothing wrong, and you are no longer in posssetion. ATF says you dont need a manufacturing liscense to make fireworks as a hobby. You just need the license to store them correctly. You need a manufacturing liscense as a seller i believe. Getting caught can be serious. Especially if you have M-80s. (not saying you do). A guy down the street got caught last summer making them. The state police bomb squad came in. But I live in CT. Because weve just had a terrorist attack, you can expect several state and federal police agencies, fire marshal, haz mat, ect.

 

Making fake labels doesnt fool anyone. When i worked one of the local shows last year i was talking to the state trooper during some down time. He told me local police always call in the state police from the bomb unit because they are highly trained unlike town cops. YOU WILL NOT FOOL THEM. It is them that determine if it;s illegal class c (in your state) or class b you shouldn't have. The new class b shells have UPC codes on them that can be scanned and tell where they orginated, port of entry, company imported to, and who holds the federal licencse. I wouldnt be surprised if it starts showing up on consumer fireworks. A fake label would really piss them off.

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That seems awfully harsh. I don't think it would be hard to prove I'm making fireworks and not bombs though, it's pretty obvious. I never light anything at my house but I do have low fences with small gaps so the neighbors could potentially see chemicals, tubes, fuses, ect. I do all my assembly outside on a picnic table, I'll have to get a tent to prevent anyone from potentially seeing something.

 

Apparently you didnt notice the entire lock down of Boston not too long ago? Boston is the tenth largest city in the states and they locked it down looking for one person. Just imagine the resources necessary to pull that off. You think scrambling thirty or forty federal agents to come haul you off would be "out of charecter" for the federal government?

 

Sure, you would eventually convince them that you are not an islamic jihadist. But that would be months and months later at a court date. As already stated you and your family would be broke and destitute from all the fines and legal fees.

 

I am not telling you this to disuade you. Build and shoot whatever you want. Just do it carefully. Just because you can build a 200g salute does not mean you should. Exercise caution and common sense. Having a 4" mortar flower pot in your residential neighbor hood is probably not a good idea.

 

just my 0.02

 

GTI

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Might want to check the date of post when replying. His posts were from the beginning of the year well before the Boston thing.

 

People like to pull up old posts so the date is the first thing I look at.

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Yeah I uhh know a guy that's in a very similar situation. Let's just say I'll bet he's going to be visiting the WPA's website very soon!

 

Thanks

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