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Celebratory gunfire in Texas likely to grow as population grows. Be safe out there

a profile picture of a pistol with a red line through it, and over the picture are these words, in yellow: Celebratory gunfire is dangerous. What goes up must come down. The results can cause damage, injury or death. This against a blue background.
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Dallas Police Department
Dallas Police are sending this message again, as they have for years, to help curtail bad outcomes from celebratory gunfire this time of year

Shooting a gun into the air is a dangerous and unwelcome way to celebrate the New Year. While police know it happens, they also warn they’ll jail and fine you if caught.

From Pharr to Fort Worth and in many other Texas towns, shooting gunfire into the air to celebrate the New Year is a common occurrence, but it can be deadly.

“Stray bullets kill dozens of people annually,” said Michael Dennis, an officer with the Dallas Police Department. “And what goes up comes down. So if you shoot a bullet up in the air, it is going to come down somewhere.”

With that bullet falling from 300 to 700 feet per second, it can kill.

Dennis said anyone caught engaging in celebratory gunfire in Dallas faces up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine, even for legal gun owners.

Gyl Switzer, with the non-profit Texas Gunsense, said celebratory gunfire breaks all rules of responsible gun
ownership.  

“What every organization that has anything to do with guns will tell you [is] you have to know what your target is when you shoot,” said Switzer. "Bullets can come down and hit people, hit cars. And that's a very dangerous thing.”

What’s more, Switzer warned that celebratory shooters, especially during this time of year, are possibly intoxicated.

"... And you should never handle a firearm when you’re intoxicated,” she said.

Texas officials also worry that with the continuing rise in both population and gun ownership across the state, odds are likely that Texas will see more celebratory gunfire.

Got a tip? Email Reporter Bill Zeeble at bzeeble@kera.org. You can follow him on Twitter @bzeeble.

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Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.