It´s like listening to a broken record – Don´t fire your guns into the air to celebrate the New Year. Unfortunately, many people don´t listen and jeopardize lives by indiscriminately firing deadly bullets into the New Year´s Eve sky.
“It´s a real problem every year,” said Stanislaus County Sheriff Les Weidman. “I think that many of these shooters don´t realize how deadly it is.”
According to experts, bullets fired into the air can climb up to two miles from the ground and remain in flight for more than a minute. As they fall, the bullets reach a velocity of 300 to 700 feet per second. A velocity of only 200 feet per second is sufficient to penetrate the human skull.
“Even though you may think it´s no big deal, just imagine the impact careless shooting has had to those who have lost loved ones to falling bullets,” said Weidman. “Every year we see some serious and fatal injuries from falling bullets throughout the nation on New Year´s Eve.”
Locally, law enforcement officials say they have been lucky nobody has been killed by stray New Year´s gunfire. Injuries from falling bullets have been reported in Los Angeles, San Diego, Fresno, Tampa, Fort Wayne, Fort Worth,
Houston, Denver, and Phoenix. In 1998, four people died from falling bullets, including a 13-year-old girl in Milwaukee.
In California, discharging a firearm into the air is a felony punishable by one year in state prison. Those caught could face jail or prison time if convicted.
The Sheriff´s Department will have extra tactical deputies on patrol December 31st looking for careless shooters. Officials said they intend on aggressively seeking out and arresting those responsible for stray bullets.
“We have zero-tolerance for these types of criminal activities, and will have extra patrol units out looking for these unsafe revelers” said Sheriff´s Department Commander Raul DeLeon. “We are not going to wait until there is a tragedy in the community, so we are taking a pro-active approach with the extra staffing including having our helicopter up on patrol.”
County Sheriff´s Department personnel are once again asking the community to celebrate the New Year safely and responsibly. Don´t fire guns in the air. Remember what goes up, will come down, and when a bullet comes down it is traveling at a fatal velocity.
· Shooting a gun into the air is a felony. You will spend up to one year in prison if you are caught.
· If you´re arrested for shooting a gun into the air, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
· If a stray bullet from your gun should kill someone, you will be arrested and charged with murder.
· People involved in celebrating the holidays by shooting their guns do not realize the danger posed by their actions.
· A bullet fired into the air can climb up to two miles. When it falls back to earth, it can reach a speed of 300 to 700 feet per second.
· If you ever see someone fire a gun into the air, call law enforcement authorities.
· Celebrate the holidays safely and responsibly. Don´t fire guns into the air.