KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Police officers in Kansas City, Missouri, will wear bulletproof helmets when they’re on patrol Tuesday night.
Every New Year’s Eve, the police department receives dozens of reports of celebratory gunfire. Police want to remind people those bullets don’t disappear, they come back down.
“That round comes down as fast as it goes up out of the barrel of the gun,” explained Sergeant Jake Becchina from KCPD.
The department shared a picture of 360 bullet casings it collected from one yard on Jan. 1, 2019 to highlight how prevalent the problem is. Prosecutors filed charges against people accused in those 360 gunshots.
On New Year's Eve 2017, the department received more than 150 calls about gunshots.
Becchina said it is illegal to shoot a gun anywhere in the city limits. You could face a year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. But worse, if your bullet hits a person or damages property, you could face harsher consequences.
“We have had instances where people have been injured or killed by celebratory gunfire and then there would be charges associated with that,” Becchina pointed out.
Celebratory gunfire on July 4, 2011, killed 11-year-old Blair Shanahan Lane. Ever since, her mother has gone door to door around Independence Day urging people not to shoot into the air.
If you know someone who is planning to shoot a gun in the air for New Year's Eve, Becchina asked you to convince them otherwise.
“Please try to talk them out of it,” he said. “That one conversation could be the difference. If one person who was going to fire a fatal round doesn't then your conversation will have meant something, it will have saved a life maybe.”
Becchina also encourages people to call 911 if they see someone shooting into the air.