Science details dangers of celebratory gunfire on New Year’s Eve

By The Numbers

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – What goes up must come down, and when a bullet falls from the sky with a velocity of up to 700 feet per second, the end result can be deadly. That’s why local law enforcement agencies are reminding Tampa Bay residents to not use firearms as part of any New Year’s Eve celebrations.

“A bullet fired into the air is going to come down and the unintended consequences can be tragic,” a Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman said. “It is against the law to fire a weapon in the City of Sarasota; Violators can expect to be arrested. “

The illegal practice accounts for more than 20 percent of all gunfire in the fourth quarter, according to gunfire tech company ShotSpotter. The company reports that in Quarter 4 of 2014, there were 16,597 incidents in ShotSpotter coverage areas

In its most recent study available, the company says New Year’s Eve is the busiest night of the year for illegal “celebratory” gunfire.

Research into celebratory gunfire says that rounds fired at 20 to 45-degree angles can retain lethal force even from far distances.

According to one of the only comprehensive celebratory gunfire studies, published in 2004 by the Centers for Disease Control, victims of celebratory gunfire are most likely to be struck in the head by a bullet.

Because of that, the mortality rate for celebratory gunfire victims is around 32 percent, which is five times higher than other shooting victims.

In a recent public sertvice announcement, Hillsborough County Sherriff Chad Chronister reminded residents that hundreds of people have been injured in Tmpa Bay in recent years and dozens have died from fatal celebratory gunfire in the community.

This year, as they have in previous years, HCSO will utilize its hundreds of ShotSpotter sensors and surveillance cameras to monitor illegal gunfire across the county.

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