As we prepare to ring in the New Year local leaders are urging residents to refrain from what is known as celebratory gunfire.

Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners Chairman, Lesley “Les” Miller recently issued a press release to bring attention to the dangers of celebratory gunfire. Tampa’s District 7 City Councilman, Luis Viera also urged citizens to use good judgment with by crafting a  resolution adopted by the City Council warning of the dangers and illegality of celebratory gunfire.

“We have a lot to celebrate during the holidays because we live in such a wonderful community,” said Miller. “We do not need to ruin somebody else’s holiday with reckless behavior like celebratory gunfire.”

Tampa City Council adopts a resolution urging against celebratory gunfire

The resolution brought to the City Council by Viera also noted the Council’s authorization for a $430,000 investment in a gunfire detection system that the Tampa Police Department will use to pinpoint the location of gun shots. The system is used by several U.S. cities and its implementation has correlated with reductions in shootings, faster response time for police, increases in arrests, and more illegal guns taken off the streets.

It is illegal to fire a gun in the air in Hillsborough County. Even a small-caliber bullet shot into the air even with innocent intentions can fall to the ground at a trajectory that can kill. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than three quarters of celebratory gunfire injuries are to the head, shoulders, and feet. The effects of celebratory gunfire can be far-reaching. Beyond the physical harm that can be caused, there is an economic development cost, as well as a tourism impact.

The non-profit organization, Bullet Free Sky, hosts a web site with a public service announcement and an eye-opening video including a survivor of a New Year’s Eve celebratory gunfire wound, the Tampa General Hospital neurosurgeon who operated on him, and Hillsborough County Sheriff, Chad Cronister.

“You need to realize that when you’re out with your friends and you fire a bullet into the air, that bullet doesn’t just disappear,” said Cronister.