The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is reminding residents that celebrating the New Year by discharging a firearm into the air is an inherently dangerous act that can net both jail time and a felony conviction.
“Unfortunately and all too often, the celebration of brooming-out the old and welcoming-in the new is disrupted by indiscriminate gunfire into the air,” said the department in a press release.
It is a common misconception that the lethality of a bullet can be mitigated by firing it vertically into the air; but in reality, authorities say, gravity will accelerate the projectile as it free falls back to earth and render it deadly once again.
“The adage of ‘what goes up, must come down’ rings especially true in this case,” wrote the LASD. “The danger of injuring someone with firing even a single round into the air is a lethal prospect.”
Despite the many warnings propagated by local authorities, some residents still choose to execute poor judgement and to disregard the laws of physics by firing weapons into the night sky.
“Each year, tragic reports nationwide tell of unsuspecting victims being struck and tragically injured by falling bullets caused by celebratory gunfire.”
Deputies responded to 117 “illegal shooting” calls across Los Angeles County on New Years’ Eve last year.
“Of these calls,” said the department, “one male adult was struck by a descending bullet, causing a laceration to the back of his head as he stood in his front yard.”
Firing a weapon into the air, aside from being potentially deadly, is a felony under section 246.39(a) of the California Penal Code.
Deputies urge anyone who observes another individual committing this crime to take shelter and call 911. Under no circumstances, they say, should one confront the shooter.
“Enjoy all the fun of New Year’s Eve offerings safely,” wrote the department, “but allow others the same opportunity to celebrate as well – don’t shoot.”