Kansas City Police Department is asking residents to refrain from shooting guns into the air this New Year’s Eve.
In a recent tweet, they said it’s “stupid and illegal.”
Kansas City Police spokesman Sgt. Jacob Becchina told The Northeast News that officers will be out responding to incidents of gunfire, as they always do. He said celebratory gunfire, or gunfire in general, is extremely dangerous, can lead to sometimes fatal injuries, and has serious legal repercussions.
“Shooting a gun into the air or anywhere is dangerous,” said Becchina. “The round will return to the earth as fast as it left the gun. This can lead to damage to houses, cars, or other property, or worse— injuries to people. Every year across the country, someone is killed or seriously injured from celebratory gunfire. There have been numerous occurrences over the years of people being injured and killed by celebratory gunfire on New Year’s and 4th of July.”
In 2015, 13-year-old Anthony Tran was hit in the back of the head with a stray bullet on St. John Avenue during the Fourth of July. He survived, luckily, but was inches away from death. The bullet hit him in the front yard of his home at a family picnic.
Eleven-year-old Blair Michaela Shanahan was killed when a stray bullet hit her during a Fourth of July celebration in her uncle’s backyard just east of the Truman Sports Complex. This incident led to the creation of HB2302, or Blair’s Law, which specifies that a person commits the crime of unlawful use of a weapon if she or she discharges a firearm within or into the limits of a municipality with criminal negligence.
Becchina said residents need to be aware of the legal ramifications of discharging a firearm.
“Firing a gun anywhere in the city limits is illegal. At best it’s a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a thousand dollar fine. It gets worse from there if someone’s property is damaged; it can lead to felony property damage. If someone is hurt or killed, it can lead to attempted or murder charges.”
KCPD uses a gunshot detection system called ShotSpotter, which can detect the sound of gunfire. With the technology sensitive enough to differentiate gunfire from fireworks, explosions and automobile backfiring, ShotSpotter eliminates false reports of gun shots and accurately places occurrences for police to respond efficiently within minutes of an event.
Even with this technology, Becchina says KCPD still needs the help of residents in Kansas City.
“Although in many places we have a gunshot detection system which we will be using throughout the holiday, it only tells us the where and when and how much. It doesn’t tell us who did the shooting, what car they got in, which house they came from. We need the public’s help to combat celebratory gunfire. We need people to come forward; call 911 to report people shooting guns on New Years or any time.”
Becchina adds that having conversations with friends and family who mention shooting guns to celebrate the holiday could have a great impact on reducing celebratory gunfire in the area.
“To the extent you have influence with friends, family members, neighbors, or others, if you hear them talking about shooting guns off to celebrate the holiday, talk them out of it. Have that conversation. Tell them it’s dangerous and illegal. That one conversation could be the difference between life or death for someone. It could save a life!”