Crime & Justice

Police warn that celebratory New Year's Eve gunfire is illegal

File: A boy under his parents' supervision, aims a shotgun.
File: A boy under his parents' supervision, aims a shotgun.
Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Clanging pots and pans, smooching a loved one or popping open some good old apple cider are common ways to celebrate when the ball drops at midnight on New Year's Eve. However, some people ring in the new year by firing guns into the air, and this year police say they will not tolerate it. 

LAPD Commander Robert Arcos and L.A. County Sheriff's Department Chief Anthony La Berge held a news conference Wednesday to launch a Gunfire Reduction Campaign in an effort to reduce the number of bullets fired into the air to celebrate New Year's.

"What goes up must come down," L.A. County Sheriff spokesperson Nicole Nishida said. "Firing weapons indiscriminately into the air is inherently dangerous."

Nishida said that last year there were 74 calls made related to illegal shooting between 8 p.m. on New Year's Eve and 4 a.m. on Jan. 1.

Shooting a gun in the air is a felony punishable by up to a year in prison. Plus, if your stray bullet ends up killing someone, the LAPD says that you will be arrested and charged with murder.

According to the LAPD, a bullet with a velocity of 200 feet per second is fast enough to penetrate the human skull, and gun shots pick up to speeds between 300 and 700 feet per second when they fall from the sky.

In a news release, the LAPD said that a man was hit in the face by a bullet on Jan. 1, 2014 on Figueroa Street, and the Department's website states that the last death in Los Angeles linked with celebratory gunfire was a 9-year-old boy named Brian Perez, who was killed in 1999. 

"New Year’s Eve is supposed to be a cheerful time, and hopefully people will be spending it with friends and family and celebrating safely and responsibly," Nishida said.

Police ask that if you see someone fire a gun, dial 911.