Police remind New Year's Eve celebrators of dangers in shooting guns in air

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - As the clock counts down toward 2014, police are warning revelers to be careful of gunfire from above.

From New Year's Eve in 2011, there were 150 reports of "shots fired," according to Kansas City police, but this celebratory gunfire can be deadly even miles away. P olice officials said they will arrest anyone who fires a gunshot into the air to celebrate New Year's Eve - or any time.

It may seem harmless, but a bullet has to go somewhere when it leaves the gun.

A stray bullet from a gun fired into the air during Fourth of July celebrations in 2011 struck and killed a Independence, Mo., child. Eleven-year-old Blair Shanahan Lane was struck by a bullet that had been fired into the air from an apartment complex several blocks away. Aaron Sullivan pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in connection with the child's death and was sentenced to three years in prison.

"You never do (shoot a gun into the air)," said gun safety instructor Don Pind. "You want to know what your backstop is, you want to know that your bullet is going to stop into something safely. Even if you're hunting you want to make sure you're not shooting up over the rise of a hill."

Pind trains people how to use firearms and use the right way. "You need training, you need to know which way the gun is pointed and (to) point it at something other than a person or place," he said.

For example: If you shot a 9mm handgun at a 45-degree angle, the bullet could travel more than a mile away.

It's illegal to fire a gun in the air any time of the year, and, if you've been celebrating with alcohol, one drink in your system could add to your troubles.

"You can't be under the influence of alcohol, even one drink and be in possession of a firearm. People don't think about that," said Pind.

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