Celebrate NYE with legal fireworks and no gunfire

South Bend Police are reminding you celebratory gunfire or using illegal fireworks could land you a fine or even jail time // WSBT 22 Photo

You could face a big fine if you use celebratory gunfire to ring in the new year.

South Bend police are asking you to put your gun away today.

It is illegal at any time to shoot a gun within city limits.

The Common Council increased the fine to $2,500 to emphasize how reckless celebratory gunfire is.

Police want to remind people that fine applies any time a gun is fired – even if you’re just shooting it toward the sky.

A bullet could potentially fall back down toward the homes and people faster than 100 miles an hour. That speed could damage property, hurt others or even lead to death.

Outcomes that could land you charges on top of the hefty fine.

Ken Garcia, South Bend Police Department public information officer, says, "When you fire a weapon that bullet has to go somewhere, and we don’t want bullets flying into people’s homes. We don’t want people firing guns in the air because that will it will eventually have to come back down and it could potentially strike somebody who is just out celebrating. It could go through a roof. You don’t know where it’s going to end up.”

SBPD has ShotSpotter installed, and it alerts police when and where shots are fired. They will go to check it out, investigate and find out who is responsible.

If you hear gunfire tonight or any day of the year, call police.

Police are also sending reminders for safe fireworks use.

People are allowed to start setting off legal fireworks today to celebrate New Year’s Eve in South Bend.

You can use fireworks from now until 1 a.m. – just one hour after we begin 2018.

“If you are firing them beyond the 1 o’clock time frame, you could potentially face fines and if any fireworks you’re firing off catch someone’s home on fire, that’s a felony. So you could potentially be facing some charges," says Garcia. "Just be smart if you are going to be using any fireworks celebrating the new year.”

Anyone using fireworks should be sober and use a clear, open area outdoors to light them.

Point them away from spectators.

Be cautions using fireworks when it’s windy.

Have an extinguisher or bucket of water nearby in case of emergency.

And don’t allow young children to handle fireworks.

Even sparklers can reach scalding temperatures – up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.

The only fireworks people are legally allowed to shoot off are “1.4 G” consumer fireworks.

You could face up to a $500 fine for possession of illegal fireworks or get arrested for endangering life and property.

Plus if your fireworks do injure someone or start a fire, be prepared for an arson charge – a felony.

Starting at midnight tonight under a new Indiana law, if you’re arrested for a felony you’ll have to submit a DNA sample.

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