According to the Centers for Disease Control, when fired into the air, bullets can return to the ground at speeds greater than 200 feet per second, a sufficient force to penetrate the human skull and cause serious injury or death.

Residents urged to not fire guns at midnight on New Years

Published 7:07pm Thursday, December 27, 2012

As the clock strikes midnight Monday evening, there will undoubtedly be the crack and pop of fireworks and firecrackers throughout the Selma city limits.

And despite the fact that it remains against the law to set off fireworks within the city limits, local law enforcement officials would much rather know that the crackle and pop they hear is fireworks, not the crackle and pop of gunfire.

According to the Selma Police Department, this year is likely to be like past New Years nights, when the sound of gunfire will ring out as some residents mark the start of a new year by firing shots into the air.

“We implore residents to not do it. It is extremely dangerous and it could kill someone,” Selma Chief of Police William T. Riley said. “We say it every year and we hope this is the year residents will listen and not put someone’s life at risk.”

In a complete disregard for the safety of others — or a lack of understanding of physics — New Year’s night has routinely been a problem for Selma Police officers, as shots ring out throughout the evening.

“It really does make for a busy night for our officers,” Riley said. “The hard part is trying to determine where the shots come from and finding those who discharged the weapon. But, thankfully, the number of calls has started to diminish over the years.”

Riley said the decline in calls — he believes — comes from people gaining a better understanding of “what goes up, must come down.” And, he says, the legal problems for those who choose to disregard public safety could be quite severe.

“The charges could be anywhere from a misdemeanor to a felony,” Riley said. “We have charges such as reckless endangerment and discharging a weapon within the city limits, that are both misdemeanors. But if we determine a round fired by that individual entered an occupied house or vehicle, then the charges would become felonies.”

Riley said there also remains confusion over shots fired within the Selma Police jurisdiction and those fired within the city limits.

“The county does not have an ordinance banning the discharging of a weapon, but they do have laws against reckless endangerment,” Riley said. “We get calls every year about guns being fired outside the city limits that we can’t do anything about.”

In the end, Riley said the best decision anyone can make is to celebrate the start of a new year without a gun of any kind.

“People need to understand — not just that it is against the law — but that it is dangerous. Those bullets have got to come down somewhere and at times, those bullets have killed,” he said.


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