Police warn against celebratory gunfire - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Police warn against celebratory gunfire

By Cade Fowler - bio | email

June 27, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Every Independence Day they go off with a bang - fireworks - climbing into the air and bursting into a beautiful array of sparkling and streaming colors. But the booms and blasts that come with these aerial displays are far different when compared to the dangerous and sometimes deadly fireworks that have become associated with this holiday - gunfire.

"Mostly we're seeing a lot of pistols," says Lt. Cliff Rousse with the Dougherty County Police.

Like fireworks in the night sky, phone lines light up emergency 911 centers. One after another with callers reporting gunfire.

"On July 4th, probably for about 2 hours we may get as many as 30 calls," says Rousse.

Celebratory gunfire can be costly to property. Over the New Year's holiday, a Ford Explorer was damaged by a falling bullet outside an Albany apartment complex.  Several windows and rooftops also received damage. But it's not just property that can take a hit from a bullet that can travel several hundred feet per second, even on the way down.

"It has no problem going through the side window of a car and it has no problem going through the door of a car. It can easily come out the side and it's easily going to penetrate a person," says Rousse.

While statistics aren't alarming in the number of casualties from celebratory gunfire in the United States, that doesn't mean it can't happen. And the penalties are tough.

Rousse says, "Reckless conduct is the very minimum. I believe the city has an ordinance against discharging firearms in the city limits. But if the bullet hurts someone or if it damages something, you're looking at more serious charges. It's just worth it."

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