That’s the message again this year from the Kansas City, MO Police Department when it comes to those who just gotta go out to the back yard and empty a gun magazine in to the air to celebrate the New Near. Despite the obvious physics lesson that what goes up must come down, some firearms owners, for whatever reason, feel the need for some nocturnal discharge on New Year’s Eve at midnight.

According to Sergeant Jake Becchina with the Kansas City, MO Police Department, that discharged round fired in to the air has the potential to travel thousands of yards and severely injure or kill a human or a pet standing outside wherever that round happens to fall back to earth. “When you shoot that gun in to the air, you don’t get to decide where that round goes,” said Becchina. “You’ve heard many times from me before, if you have a friend or family member or if you’re at a gathering and someone says I’m going to go get my gun and shoot it off to celebrate the holiday, please have a conversation with them, tell them please don’t do that.”

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas echoed that sentiment. “We do this press conference every year and I think it’s important that we do it to remind people of what can be a normal night of celebration as opposed to what, in too many situations occurs where there’s someone struck by a bullet, sometimes accidentally,” Lucas said. “This is not just something that happens in one area, we hear calls from every part of the city. Please make sure you’re safe and responsible no matter where you are.”

Comparatively, over the last three New Year’s Eves in Kansas City, from 6pm on December 31, 2018 to 6am on January 1, 2019, There were 112 Shot Spotter activations and 300 Sounds of Shots calls for service citywide, 234 of which were in the city’s urban core patrol divisions. (Central, Metro and East)

One year later, on December 31, 2019 over the same time period, there were 216 Shot Spotter activations, 316 Sounds of Shots calls citywide with 253 of those calls in CPD, MPD and EPD.

In 2020 over the same time period from 6pm on December 31st to 6am January 1st, 2021, there were 239 Shot Spotter activations, 303 Sound of Shots calls citywide, of which 213 calls in CPD, MPD and EPD.

Those 239 Shot Spotter activations represent a total of 1,623 rounds detected, all of which landed somewhere.

On New Year’s Eve in 2019, a home in the 5100 block of Osage sustained damage from celebratory gunfire. No injuries were reported.

Despite current staffing shortages, Becchina noted that a full complement of officers will be on the street to address the uptick in calls that come in. “We want to encourage people to call for police if they need them,” Becchina said. “We will have officers out there working all night and longer if they need to, to answer all the calls that come in no matter what the level of priority is. We’ve worked 150-plus New Year’s Eves at the KCPD and we will work this one. We have officers that are not working on duty but working off duty to protect and serve venues across the city but we want the city to be prepared as well.”

Discharging a firearm inside the city limits is considered a misdemeanor, punishable upon conviction by a year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine if it doesn’t injure anyone or cause property damage. The punishment according to Becchina goes up from there depending on the result of those rounds being fired.