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Tucson Police: Don't shoot guns in the air on New Years Eve

Pima County Sheriff's Department New Years Gunfire, Police NYE gunfire
Posted at 5:00 PM, Dec 31, 2018
and last updated 2019-01-01 10:04:17-05

What comes up, must come down. On New Years Eve, many in Tucson will throw confetti, hats, and other items in the air. All of these will fall back to Earth harmlessly, but one celebratory New Year's thing won't- bullets.

Though one may think it can be harmless fun, celebratory gunfire on New Years can result in property damage, severe injuries and even death.

This year, local law enforcement strongly recommends celebrating the end of the year in other ways, since there are always victims of celebratory gunfire.

Pima Country Sheriff's Department said in a Facebook Post:

  • "Firing guns in the air is extremely dangerous and should be reported to 9-1-1 immediately.

    Every year we hear news stories of people being hurt or killed by stray bullets fired during New Year’s celebrations. In 1999, one such incident occurred. As 14-year-old Shannon Smith was standing in her Phoenix-area yard she was fatally struck by a falling bullet. Shannon’s parents campaigned to have “Shannon’s Law” passed, making it a felony to fire a gun in city limits or within a mile of any structure in Arizona.

    As 2016 quickly approaches the history books, we ask you to celebrate the New Year safely and responsibly. No celebration is worth a life."

The Tucson Police Department said that people should avoid the chance of a what-if scenario and lock up firearms before festivities and impairment begin.

The reason being : impairment often leads to poor decisions, but also gunfire not being shot directly up, but at an angle, which is more dangerous. Regardless of what trajectory the bullet takes, it will likely travel a mile and a half away, or more, and can penetrate rooftops and walls.

What's more, most bullets launched on New Years end up in the head, if they do strike someone.

In 2003, the CDC studied celebratory gunfire on New Years in Puerto Rico, which, at the time, had roughly 4 million people inside of its borders. The data the CDC gathered found that the most common part of the body hit was the head.

New Year's Eve Injuries Caused by Celebratory Gunfire --- Puerto Rico, 2003 
Figure 1
Celebratory gunfire injuries by body location

They also found that during the two-day period (Dec 31- Jan. 1 of 2004), 43 people were injured by gunfire.

New Year's Eve Injuries Caused by Celebratory Gunfire --- Puerto Rico, 2003
Figure 2
Percentage of persons injured by celebratory gunfire by age group.

If you hear gunfire, please report it to the police immediately at 9-1-1.

Lastly, remember to have fun and start the new year right, without felony charges.