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2 Jan, 2019 00:41

US revelers wound bystanders, themselves with New Year's celebratory gunfire

US revelers wound bystanders, themselves with New Year's celebratory gunfire

The time-honored, if illegal, tradition of firing guns into the air to celebrate the New Year led to a rash of injuries on the first day of 2019 as stray bullets lodged in innocent bystanders – and even the shooters themselves.

A Cleveland, OH man shot himself in the leg trying to return his 9mm to its holster after firing it off in celebration in the middle of a field. After he was taken to the hospital, police added insult to injury by charging him with illegally discharging a firearm… and causing injury to a person. Ouch, indeed.

A Kansas City, KS man shot himself in the stomach after setting his .22 down on his couch. He hadn’t even fired off the celebratory gunshot yet. No word on if he’s been spared the indignity of criminal charges.

It’s easy to laugh at these types, because they’re only hurting themselves, but a 6-year-old girl in Oakland, CA hit in the head with a stray bullet from “celebratory gunfire” while playing in her backyard serves as a sober reminder that what goes up must come down. She is in stable condition, as is the 9-year-old Atlanta, GA boy who caught a bullet in the stomach while setting off fireworks in his front yard with his family.

In Baltimore, MD, a 14-year-old boy had a bullet graze his head while watching the holiday fireworks. The shooting was believed to be unintentional; six other shootings in the city that night weren’t, including one which left a 17-year-old dead. 

A Raleigh, NC woman was hit in the chest by a falling bullet as she rang in the New Year at the city’s outdoor ceremonies, where guns are strictly prohibited. The bullet narrowly missed a lung, passing through her stomach before lodging in her hip. A San Leandro, CA woman was also hit by a stray bullet while standing on her balcony watching the fireworks, but did not require hospitalization.

Staying inside was no defense, either, as an Indianapolis, IN woman found out when she was hit in the stomach by a stray bullet as she celebrated in her apartment with her family. Several other Indianapolis residents reported property damage from stray bullets.

Firing guns in the air is a crime in most US jurisdictions, though the severity ranges from a class-B misdemeanor à la “disorderly conduct” (Ohio) to a felony carrying three years in prison (California). Bullets fired into the air return to earth at 300 feet per second and regularly kill people. That doesn’t stop thousands of people from firing them off, of course. 

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