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Police warn against shooting guns to celebrate the New Year

WSBT 22

The New Year is a time of fresh beginnings and celebration.

But, some of those celebrations, like firing guns into the air, can be pretty dangerous.

The tradition dates back hundreds of years. John Adams, America's second president, suggested using guns to celebrate Independence Day. Even though that tradition can be dangerous, plenty of people still love to do it.

"It livens up the sky and we like to have fun," says one man.

"As long as you're shooting up in the air and there ain't no plays flying over, why not?" adds another.

Many people say they take some precautions when firing their guns.

"It all depends on where it goes," said one woman. "If it was in a field or something, it would be totally different."

"We do it out in the country," added another man. "We don't do it in the city, nothing like that."

Notre Dame physics professor Antonio Delgado says even that strategy isn't fool proof.

"When you shoot a bullet into the atmosphere, it has some speed but it doesn't have enough speed to leave the atmosphere," he says.

When the bullet reaches a certain height, it will slow down and then begin to fall.

"If you're standing below, the bullet is going to hit you at a humongous speed," Delgado says. "The same speed it would hit you if you directly shoot yourself."

Clearly that could do some serious damage. The risk only becomes greater in more populated areas. Weather factors, like strong winds, could push the bullet to a new trajectory.

"[It] could harm someone else, it could hit a house. It's like firing an arm and not knowing where you are aiming to," Delgado says.

"Might ricochet or something, hit somebody, kill somebody," says one woman I spoke to. "You never know, it happens."

"Where's that bullet going to go? Is it going to kill a kid? Because it has to come down somewhere and strike something," added another man.

Delgado feels so strongly about this tradition, he agreed to talk even though he's on vacation in Mexico right now.

"This is a very dangerous practice and people should think twice before doing these things on New Year's Eve," he says.

If that's not enough incentive, shooting a gun irresponsibly is illegal. Officers with the South Bend Police Department say you could be slapped with a $2500 fine. This year alone, several people were fined. If your stray bullet hurts someone, the penalty will only get worse.

"I don't like to be arrested, how about you?" one man chuckled.

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