Miami-Dade County

Hey, Miami: Please don’t shoot to celebrate the New Year

Community leaders urge against celebratory gunfire on NYE

Miami-Dade community leaders urge the public to refrain from firing guns into the air on New Year's Eve.
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Miami-Dade community leaders urge the public to refrain from firing guns into the air on New Year's Eve.

Do we really need to ask you this? Please don’t fire guns into the air to celebrate the New Year.

“It’s stupid, but people do it,” said Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado at a news conference on Thursday in Liberty City to discourage year-end revelers from using firearms. “They should know they are going to get caught.”

Over the last decade, several people in Miami-Dade County have been killed or injured by stray bullets on New Year’s Day. One of the most notable was a 6-year-old boy visiting from Italy who was wounded while eating outdoors in Miami’s Design District in 2010.

READ MORE: What’s open and closed as the New Year begins

Later that year, Miami-Dade County and the city of Miami launched a public awareness campaign called “One Bullet Kills the Party.” Miami rap legend Pitbull volunteered to serve as its public face.

The dangers of shooting a gun into the air should be obvious, said Miami-Dade Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, who also spoke at the media gathering.

“When a bullet goes up in the air, it always has to come down,” said Edmonson, who asked locals to celebrate New Year’s responsibly.

Education has helped. Regalado said no one has been injured by celebratory gunfire in Miami for four years.

In many cultures across Latin America and the Middle East, important events such as holidays and victories in war are sometimes celebrated with gunshots. In South Florida, residents also shoot firearms to mark July 4. The improper handling of fireworks is another threat to public safety. NFL star Jason Pierre-Paul is the most prominent recent example. The Giants defensive end had his right finger amputated after a fireworks accident on July 4, 2015.

Scientists, ballistics experts and even the TV show “Mythbusters” have debated just how dangerous falling bullets can be. United States military research found that a .30-caliber bullet can travel as high as 10,000 feet in the air (that’s two miles) and reach speeds of 300 feet per second on its way back down, according to the website Slate.

But bullets fired straight into the air are less likely to kill upon their return to ground level. That’s because air resistance slows them down. (The old story about a penny dropped of the top of the Empire State Building turning into a lethal weapon is a myth, scientific research has shown.)

Shooting a gun at an upward angle of 45 degrees or less is the most dangerous because those bullets don’t lose as much speed in the air. Either way, keep it simple: Don’t shoot firearms into the sky.

Gun violence, both intentional and accidental, is a year-round concern in Miami-Dade County. Between March 2015 and 2016, 22 bullets a day were fired in Liberty City, Little Haiti and Overtown, according to a shot-detecting technology used by Miami police.

Those with information about gun violence and other crimes are urged to call Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS (8477).

An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated the year of Jean Pierre-Paul’s fireworks accident.