Federal and local authorities today urged Southland residents to avoid celebrating the new year by firing weapons into the air, warning that falling bullets are lethal and could lead to time behind bars.
"Celebratory gunfire is a lose-lose situation,'' said John A. Torres, special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Los Angeles Field Division. "Every bullet fired into the air has the potential to take an innocent life, as well as lead to an individual's arrest. ATF encourages the public to celebrate the coming of this new year with public safety in mind and not partake in indiscriminate gunfire.''
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined with Sheriff Lee Baca and District Attorney Steve Cooley to send a similar message.
"Firing guns into the air is a deadly serious business,'' Villaraigosa said. "We ask that everyone celebrate the coming of the new year responsibly.''
Firing a weapon into the air is a felony punishable by a year behind bars. Torres noted that if the person firing the weapon is prohibited from possessing a firearm, it could also lead to federal charges. He also said using illegal fireworks can also lead to trouble with the law.
"ATF will work closely with state and local law enforcement to guarantee the public's safety and prosecute individuals in possession of illegal fireworks or practice illegal celebratory gunfire,'' Torres said.
Witnesses to people firing weapons or using illegal fireworks were urged to call police or the ATF at (800) 283-4867.