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Flying bullets from New Year's celebratory gunfire can cause serious damage

NOW: Flying bullets from New Year’s celebratory gunfire can cause serious damage

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- People firing bullets into the air to celebrate the new year happens all around the country, including in Milwaukee, and over the years it’s caused a number of deaths.

Tiffany Ramos has lived on Milwaukee’s south side all of her life, and for her, hearing celebratory gunshots this New Year's is nothing new.

“I would say at least fifty. You know you ride through the neighborhood or you’ll go places and people are just letting off their rounds -- it is something that you do hear in Milwaukee,” said Ramos.

Gun safety instructors say that firing guns in the air to celebrate can do quite the damage.

”If you went up and shot a car with a gun, you’re looking at similar damage to that...it’s the same thing,” said Adam Campbell, a certified handgun instructor at Brew City Shooters Supply. “The bullet loses some of its use as it comes down and some of its power, but it’s still going to cause serious damage.”

In fact, celebratory gunfire is to blame for the death of a 61-year-old Houston nurse.  Deputies say Philippa Ashford was celebrating with her family when she suddenly yelled out that she’d been shot, just after midnight on Wednesday. Investigators believe the person who fired the gun was far away.

Ramos, who is taking gun safety classes, says the celebratory firings have to stop.

”When we have the gun, we’re responsible for anything that it does, you know -- and innocent people are dying and getting hurt from it,” adds Ramos.

Careless gun firing in Milwaukee during New Year’s celebrations have even affected one of Campbell’s students.

“A student of mine, he’s a really nice guy and when he was younger, he got hit with a flying round. It hit him in the eye, it blinded him, his eye is permanently injured, he’ll never use it again,” said Campbell.

The dangers of celebratory gunfire secured the passing of ‘Shannon’s Law’ in Arizona, making it a felony to randomly shoot a gun in the air. The law was inspired after Shannon Smith, who was killed by a stray bullet in 1999.

Campbell says people who fire off their guns to celebrate the new year clearly do not know proper firearm safety.

“The type of person that does that is someone who’s not familiar with basic firearm safety,” says Campbell.  “The person that does that is someone who is probably reckless in other areas.”

Milwaukee police say they are looking into the number of gunshots fired during the New Year’s celebration. Those numbers have not yet been finalized.


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