The following is a video transcript.
If you plan on celebrating with fireworks, safety is a primary concern. Firearms should not be used in celebration. We’ve all seen movies where cowboys celebrate the end of a long trail ride by shooting their guns in the air riding into town. Celebrations like that should only occur in the movies.
Remember, bullets fired into the air are going to fall to the earth somewhere. Every year, across the country, people are injured or killed by bullets falling to earth. Consider this: when a bullet is fired into the air, it can stay in flight for over a minute. On the way back down, it gains velocity of between 300 and 700 feet per second. It only takes a velocity of 200 feet per second to penetrate a person’s skull.
Most towns have ordinances that prohibit discharging firearms in public places. Some have ordinances that prohibit discharging a firearm within a certain number of feet of a home or residence, some as few as 100 yards or less. Keep that in mind as well.
Drinking alcoholic beverages is also a big part of New Year’s Eve celebrations. Guns and booze don’t mix well. If you shoot someone while you’re intoxicated, your actions will be judged by a reasonable sober person standard. Voluntary intoxication is not a defense in this situation. You could face criminal and civil liability if you shoot someone while impaired.
Let’s say you have injured someone by negligently shooting them. What are your responsibilities? Well, under tort law, which is the right to sue someone who has committed a wrong against you, you have a duty to aid someone that you have negligently injured. What if you were not the one who caused the injury, but you want to help someone who has been injured? You can become civilly liable if you are negligent in your attempts to assist them. You won’t be held to the standard of a medical professional, like a doctor or an EMT, in the things you try and do, but of an ordinary non-medical professional trying to assist someone in that situation. If you want to help, try to make the injured party as comfortable as possible until EMT personnel arrive.
Firearms are deadly tools and should not be treated as an alternative to fireworks. Shooting guns into the air is something that gives all gun owners, even responsible ones who don’t engage in such reckless behavior, a bad name. Be smart and enjoy the New Year’s safely. Leave your guns out of your celebration.