In addition to warning Arizona residents about the dangers of drunk driving and staying up past their bedtimes this New Year’s Eve, the Maryvale Precinct in Phoenix also plans to hand out 40,000 fliers cautioning people about the dangers of celebratory gunfire.
The Maryvale Precinct is partnering with Walmart to inform customers about Shannon’s Law, a statute that makes firing a gun in the air illegal within city limits. The law was passed in 2000 after 14-year-old Shannon Smith was killed by a stray bullet in June 1999.
According to Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Tommy Thompson, many residents do not realize it is against the law fire celebratory gunshots in the air. He advises honking car horns and banging pots and pans as sensible alternatives to discharging a firearm into the air. Bullets can go through buildings and cars, so Assistant Chief Harry Markley said police will not be issuing warnings or tickets; they will be taking people to jail immediately.
Commander Mike Kurtenbach said the number of incidents police respond to each year prove the public can use a reminder about shooting guns into the air. Last year there were 264 calls on New Year’s Eve.
“It sounds simplistic but what goes up does come down,” Kurtenbach said.
Police are asking that residents only report gunshots if they see weapons being fired because it is easy to confuse fireworks with gunshots.