In the US there is generallyno prohibition against firing flares, however, there will be many state and municipal regulations regarding "fireworks" and "firearms" that might come into play. Nevertheless, there's usually an opportunity to fire flares for testing, i.e., you go to the local fire department or cg station and tell them you want to test some pyros and they'll either walk you outside or tell you how. I've seen a number of cg stations that also keep a small metal dumpster with a slot in the side marked "epired pyrotechnics" for public disposal. (I'm sure they pay to ship them off as hazmat, sure. (G))
"We Canucks have no opportunity to fire expired flares. it is illegal."
Well, that's why you folks were granted independence versus we threw old George and his minions out. A little revolution every couple of hundred years is a good thing.
I don't know your provincial or municipal regs, I know Canada has some strict regulatiosn concerning "firearms" in general, but again I'd suggest asking your CG or FD, and let them know you want to see how the pyros actually work. Here, the USCG and others routinely fire them off during demonstrations, i.e. the Safety At Sea seminars.
The first time I fired some off (during an inland fourth of july evening, when pyros of all sorts are incredibly common and ignored, legal or not, as long as you don't burn anything down) my reaction was gee, the fireworks you buy at the roadside stand are brighter and shoot higher. And cost less too.
The Olin 12g flare gun rounds are a cruel joke, best used to amuse any kids in the life raft. The dedicated hand-helds a tad better (unless I'm getting those mixed up again) but still nothing to write home about. There's been a lot of discussion elsewhere about using a "rescue laser" pointer, and sweeping the laser beam across whoever you want to attract. But after you've seen the typical Olins in action, you quickly realize their only purpose is to meet regulations or decorate inshore waters.
If you can't swim home, you want SOLAS pyros. And those are too damned expensive to waste on burglars.
Machete: 10c in China, $20 in US, same product in both places. As long as you stow it in the galley, they'll usually accept it as "not a weapon".
HS, he was arrested by local police, so it may have been local ordinance. However, there were ironically home fireworks being shot off the shore, which inspired him to pop an expired flare into the air. The folks shooting the fireworks were not arrested as far as I could tell.
I think the marine police saw the flare, responded and then arrested him when there was no actual emergency. I will have to ask what the actual charge was.
Discharging a firearm without the presence of doughnuts?
Seriously though...if he shot it from a flare pistol, and someone reported seeing a "gun", that's all it would take. A firearms violation versus a fireworks launch. Flareguns are often tolerated, but technically fall under firearms regulations.
In some places, especially Miami and Detroit, there are major problems with folks shooting real guns on the 4th and a good real zero tolerance policy. Dummies don't understand, the bullets always COME DOWN and hit something, often someone. So when the cops hear "gun"...can't blame 'em.
Shooting a red emergency flare in the USA without prior permission or in an emergency is illegal. The white ones are for practice. “Flare gun” is a misnomer, the correct terminology is “flare launcher”. The USCG, ATF and homeland Security do not consider them to be a “fire arm” (but they do have plenty of rules and restrictions regarding pyrotechnic devices). Every so often our club does a “flare day” where we practice launching flares and smoke off one of our docks. We get USGC permission first (we are located across from one of their major bases). The SOLAS flares are the best, bar none. I have had 100% success with ones that were over 25 years old. The problem is the rule requires replacement if they are over 40 months old. If you have the chance, go to either a Safety at Sea seminar or organize your own flare day. It will be an eye opener. The USCG approved aerial flares are really only good for night time use and the hand held flares sputter and throw off so much slag that you really need to wear a sailing glove. I shudder to think what they would do to a rubber life raft. The 12ga USCG flares are particularly anemic and I went to the 20mm size to get better brightness and hang time.
"Shooting a red emergency flare in the USA without prior permission or in an emergency is illegal." Not that I doubt you, but if it is illegal on a federal level, perhaps there's a citation from the USC or CFR you can give us to back that up?
"The USCG, ATF and homeland Security do not consider them [flare guns] to be a “fire arm”" Yeah, but we're not talking about them, we're talking about local, county, and state PDs, and they'll tell you "tell that to the judge" while you're being arrested. In many states a "firearm" is in fact defined in the state laws and usually it is defined alng the lines of "any device which fires, propels, or launches a projectile by any means of stored power, including springs, explosive charges, compressed air or gas..." and yes, you just try carrying one in front of a cop in DC or NYC. It's a GUN in both places, although at least in NYC if you are not displaying it, but transporting it to or from a boat, they'll ignore it. Be seen with it in your hand in a parking lot--and you can tell it to the judge.
And if you think Homeland Security's TSA section is going to allow you to carry it, even unloaded, onto the cabin of a commercial airliner...don't think so. I'd sure like to be there when you try it.