YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The new year is just a few days away. For those who choose to ring in 2023 with celebratory gunfire, police are sending out a warning against it before the holiday. We spoke with Youngstown police about what measures they’re taking this year.
Every year across the U.S., people make headlines for being struck or sometimes killed by celebratory gunfire on New Year’s Eve.
“We highly discourage. In fact, it’s illegal to have any kind of celebratory gunfire on any day of the week or year,” said Youngstown Police Captain Jason Simon.
Yet at midnight on Jan. 1, people still engage in this dangerous tradition.
During last year’s firework show in downtown Youngstown, as the clock struck midnight, hundreds of rounds of celebratory gunfire went off, but you couldn’t hear it over the sound of the fireworks.
Gunfire doesn’t just start and stop at midnight, it continues for several minutes if not hours.
“What goes up must come down is certainly true. Bullets are capable of traveling a very long way and still having what we call terminal velocity, where they can do serious harm, impacting a person or a structure,” Simon said.
According to a study by the CDC, when fired into the air, bullets can return to the ground at speeds greater than 200 feet per second. That’s enough force to penetrate the human skull. That same study shows, 80 percent of those bullets tend to hit people in the head, shoulders and feet.
“We’re alerted to those gunshots, you know, within seconds. We will be having extra officers out and every gunfire call, we will be investigating,” Simon said.
If caught, you could face a misdemeanor or a felony if someone is injured or killed.