Happy bullet free New Year

Bingo lottery balls 2016 and fireworks

Every year there are senseless gun deaths and injuries due to celebratory gun fire. One has to wonder why those who shoot off their guns on New Years Eve don’t have common sense. Perhaps they don’t understand that bullets have a trajectory that ends somewhere. What goes up must come down. An article from The Trace explains how dangerous this practice is. From the article:

In the 48 communities where ShotSpotter’s equipment is deployed, the company reports, “Statistics show that there are strong seasonal gunfire periods, where approximately 15 percent of all annual gunfire incidents take place on the holidays around New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and the Fourth of July.” In the fourth quarter of 2014, according to ShotSpotter, “there were 16,597 incidents in ShotSpotter coverage areas, and of those, 3,556 (or 21.4 percent) took place during the New Year’s Eve period.” The overwhelming majority of those rounds will land harmlessly or lodge in roofs or other property. But in areas with high population density, some will inevitably hit human beings. And so, each year before the holiday season, police, city officials, and activists from California to Ohio to Texas to Florida are compelled to call on their communities to refrain from spraying bullets skyward.

The impoverishment of data notwithstanding, it’s safe to stipulate at this point that the odds of any single person’s being hit by a celebratory round are extremely low. Even contentious research on stray shootings in general acknowledges that celebratory gunfire (wounds from “falling bullets”) represents less than 5 percent of all firearm-related injuries.

Though the odds are low, tell that to the families of those who have been killed or injured by celebratory gun fire. Every year, my friend Joe Jaskolka and his father Greg have a press event to let people know that celebratory gunfire is, indeed, very dangerous. Joe was hit by a bullet in Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve of 1998 when he was just 11. Joe is living with the results of that bullet lodged in his head. He is now 28 years old and lives in a wheel chair suffering from ongoing physical disabilities. But he stays involved in the issue of gun violence prevention by warning others of the danger of celebratory gun fire. Joe’s a great young man and I’m happy to call him my friend and colleague. From the above article:

“This is very simple,” said Joe Jaskolka, “what goes up must come down.”

“We went from having an annual New Year’s Eve party to having an annual press conference,” his father, Gregory Jaskolka, said.

So this New Year’s Eve, please use common sense and don’t fire off a gun to celebrate the coming of 2016. For if 2016 is like other years, innocent people will be killed or injured tonight and every day of the new year. Bullets fired into the air or anywhere else cause trauma and devastating results for many American families. Let’s make 2016 a safer year than 2015. Below is a graph provided by the Gun Violence Archive showing the results of shootings in 2015.

2015 toll of gun violence

This does not include the many suicides which are not usually publicly available. The actual yearly numbers are over 100,000 total gunshot injuries of which about 33,000 have ended in death. It’s hard to keep track of all of the incidents given the amazingly large number of them.

We must be better than this. Join us in 2016 to make our communities safer from devastating gun violence. There are many organizations working on this issue. Find one in your area or that interests you and add your voice to those demanding a change to the conversation and a change to our laws. You can be part of the solution to our nation’s public health and safety epidemic. It’s past time for change.

 

UPDATE:

The first reported case of someone struck by a stray bullet in celebratory gunfire has been reported. A Las Vegas area teen was struck by a bullet early this morning and was hospitalized.

3 thoughts on “Happy bullet free New Year

  1. J. Edwards says:

    It still amazes me how many folks continue to do this. There are products available that you can use instead of live rounds if you wish to use your firearm as a celebration device,(personally I think its quite silly but to each his/her own). If you feel that you need to fire off some rounds to celebrate the new year, please purchase and shoot blanks folks. They still go bang and you avoid the possibility of killing your neighbor…

  2. Brent Gurtek says:

    J. Is correct. For instance, among the non-lethal ammo options for shotguns,
    there’s “crackle” shells which are made for warding off problem bears. I bet they’d be fun to try.

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