Police in Denver and Syracuse say calls complaining about fireworks being set off are up tenfold this year. Hartford has gone from a few calls a night to 200. New York City had received about 1,000 calls at this time last year; so far in 2020, it's logged about 24,000, the Washington Post reports. The increase is being heard nightly across the country, and police departments have started to say they'll do something about it, though there are complications. It can be difficult to tell where the explosions are coming from. Police in Boston, where complaints also are way up, said fireworks were thrown at officers when they answered a call this month. New York City set up a task force this week to go after the suppliers of illegal fireworks. In the meantime, the boom has led to questions about why and theories to fill that gap.
One online theory is that the federal government is in on it, trying to desensitize people to rising levels of force with constant light and noise. Some theorists say the fireworks appear to be professional grade, but an industry executive shot that down, saying they look to be the kind available legally to consumers. Retailers confirm that they're selling out. "The past few weeks it’s been like the day before the 4th of July every day," said one in Pennsylvania. "We can’t keep our shelves stocked." Police, retailers, customers, and city officials don't see conspiracies, per the New York Times: They see bored Americans weary of the shutdown who want to have fun. And seeing other people set off fireworks makes them want to set off fireworks, too. A college student who spent $716 in one shopping trip said he couldn't help stocking up. "When you start shopping, you just want to keep buying stuff," he said. "It's like an addiction." (Read more fireworks stories.)