Family calls for end to celebratory gunfire this New Year’s Eve

FILE - (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

RUSKIN, Fla. (WFLA) — Several years ago, when Ruskin resident Diego Duran was 12 years old, he nearly lost his life after being hit in the head by a bullet on New Year’s Eve. He’s recovered, but since then, his family has been pushing for an end to celebratory gunfire.

Others agree about the danger.

“Celebratory gunfire is extremely dangerous. What people don’t take into account is that once you fire that round into the air, it is going to come downm,” said Bruce Kitzis, who is the general manager at Shooter’s World gun range in Tampa.

Gun owners like Pam Arciola, who was practicing at the range on News Year’s Eve, are taught to be responsible with a weapon.

“I certainly wouldn’t do something like that, I think it is irresponsible and you never know where it is going to land and who it is going to hurt and that’s why you should be doing it at a range,” said Arciola.

Since Duran’s New Year’s Eve injury, his family has launched a campaign, called “Bullet Free Sky”.

They’ve even put together a public service announcement that’s being shown in Hillsborough County schools. The PSA highlights the dangers and destruction caused by celebrating with a gun.

“The problem with these bullet wounds you can hurt someone you, can kill someone, you can cause brain damage, blindness, all sorts of serious injuries with it,” said Tampa General Hospital emergency room doctor, Justin Dzik.

In addition to injuring someone or damaging property, the practice can also lead criminal charges, if a shooter is caught.

“You could be facing criminal mischief charges from the damage to property, all the way up to felony manslaughter charges if somebody dies as the result of you getting out there thinking you are having a good time and actually you are committing a crime,” said Larry McKinnon with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

Experts say the bottom line is, celebratory gunfire is simply reckless gunfire.

“Think before you do that, the consequences are very severe,” said Kitzis.

Depending on the caliber, a bullet can travel as far as four miles from the point it’s fired, making celebratory gunfire dangerous just about anywhere.

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