Local News

As new year nears, police sound warning about celebratory gun fire

Posted December 31, 2019 6:45 p.m. EST
Updated December 31, 2019 6:50 p.m. EST

— Thousands of people will be out and about Tuesday night to ring in 2020, but police and gun enthusiasts are warning revelers about firing guns into the air because the falling bullets could injure or kill unsuspecting victims.

During last year's celebration in downtown Raleigh, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student Kaitlyn Kong was celebrating New Year's eve on Fayetteville Street when she was hit by a stray bullet.

Kong survived but had to undergo a lengthy surgical operation.

Local police agencies are trying to get the word out about the dangers of firing guns into the air.

"It's illegal and it's dangerous," a Durham police spokeswoman said. "Always have to remember if you are shooting a gun in the air, the bullet has to land somewhere, so that's going to cause someone to get injured or (cause) property damage."

On Tuesday, instructors at The Triangle Shooting Academy say it's one of the first lessons new gun owners should learn about firing a weapon: They should know exactly what their target is.

"An average projectile can travel 2.5, 3 1/2 and maybe even 4 miles," said Justin Card, a gun instructor. "Even if you are out in the woods and think you are in the middle of nowhere, that bullet can come down where there is a lot of people. And you can potentially seriously hurt somebody."

That was the situation that happened last year in Raleigh to Kong, a situation that could have easily turned into the loss of a young life.

"Responsible safe gun ownership and enjoying the sport in a safe responsible manner is really the key," Card said. "And every time someone does something stupid, they make all of us look bad."

Durham police said they received more than 100 calls last New Year's Eve about people firing guns.

Durham residents caught doing so face arrest and fines of up to $500.

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