NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — With the countdown to 2020 nearly here, Newport News Police reminds the community to be aware of the dangers of celebratory gunfire.
Celebratory gunfire is not only dangerous, but a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to a $2,500 fine and one year in jail; however, if an injury occurs, it could be a felony.
Newport News Master Police Officer Brandon Maynard says bullets shot into the air don’t simply vanish into space.
“When you shoot a firearm or a gun in the air, that bullet has to come down somewhere — it’s simple. It’s going to come down and it’s going to hit something whether it’s a house or, God forbid, another human being,” Maynard said.
According to the Newport News Police Department, bullets fired at angles — not vertical — are more dangerous. The bullet maintains its angular ballistic trajectory, is far less likely to engage in tumbling motion, and therefore travels at speeds much higher than a bullet in free fall.
Firearms expert Julian Hatcher studied falling bullets in the 1920s and his study showed that .30 caliber rounds can reach terminal velocities of 300 feet per second as they fall. More recent research has indicated that 200 feet per second is enough to penetrate the skull.
“It’s something that can be preventable, just don’t go out and shoot your gun in the air,” Maynard said. “Some residents may confuse fireworks for gunshots, vice versa. We are going to get those calls, it’s inevitable, it happens.”
Police departments throughout the country are stepping up patrols Tuesday night and bracing for a busy New Year’s Eve. If you live in Newport News and would like to report celebratory gunfire in your neighborhood, call the Police Department at (757) 247–2500.
If you would like to make an anonymous report, you can call the Crime Line at 1–888-LOCK-U-UP.